FBI Director James Comey says that Russia is the "greatest threat of any nation on Earth, given their intent and capability."
Mr Comey made the comments during a Senate hearing in which he discussed the ongoing investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 US election. The top FBI official told senators that Russians have been meddling in American politics and that they have continued to do so recently.
"One of the biggest lessons learned is that Russia will do this again. Because of 2016 election, they know it worked," Mr Comey said of the threat that Russia might try to influence future elections.
Mr Comey first acknowledge that the FBI had opened an investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election in March when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee. The intelligence agency is working to determine whether any associates of President Donald Trump were involved in the Russian efforts to sway the election, he said then. Democrats gleaned some satisfaction from the revelation but were critical that Mr Comey had not revealed that investigation sooner.
The Trump administration has been plagued by suspicions that associates of the campaign and the allegations have already led to some significant scandal for the president.
Less than a month after Mr Trump was sworn into office, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign from his position serving the White House after it was discovered he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the substance of a phone call he had had with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyev during the transition period following the election. Mr Flynn had failed to tell Mr Pence that he had discussed Russian sanctions that were established by former President Barack Obama after US intelligence agencies determined that Russia had interfered in the US election campaign.
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
1/9 Trump and the media
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer takes questions during the daily press briefing
2/9 Trump and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Union leaders applaud US President Donald Trump for signing an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington DC. Mr Trump issued a presidential memorandum in January announcing that the US would withdraw from the trade deal
3/9 Trump and the Mexico wall
A US Border Patrol vehicle sits waiting for illegal immigrants at a fence opening near the US-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. The number of incoming immigrants has surged ahead of the upcoming Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, who has pledged to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. A signature campaign promise, Mr Trump outlined his intention to build a border wall on the US-Mexico border days after taking office
4/9 Trump and abortion
US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House. Mr Trump reinstated a ban on American financial aide being granted to non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling, provide abortion referrals, or advocate for abortion access outside of the United States
5/9 Trump and the Dakota Access pipeline
Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines hold a rally as they protest US President Donald Trump's executive orders advancing their construction, at Columbus Circle in New York. US President Donald Trump signed executive orders reviving the construction of two controversial oil pipelines, but said the projects would be subject to renegotiation
6/9 Trump and 'Obamacare'
Nancy Pelosi who is the minority leader of the House of Representatives speaks beside House Democrats at an event to protect the Affordable Care Act in Los Angeles, California. US President Donald Trump's effort to make good on his campaign promise to repeal and replace the healthcare law failed when Republicans failed to get enough votes. Mr Trump has promised to revisit the matter
7/9 Donald Trump and 'sanctuary cities'
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January threatening to pull funding for so-called "sanctuary cities" if they do not comply with federal immigration law
8/9 Trump and the travel ban
US President Donald Trump has attempted twice to restrict travel into the United States from several predominantly Muslim countries. The first attempt, in February, was met with swift opposition from protesters who flocked to airports around the country. That travel ban was later blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The second ban was blocked by a federal judge a day before it was scheduled to be implemented in mid-March
SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images
9/9 Trump and climate change
US President Donald Trump sought to dismantle several of his predecessor's actions on climate change in March. His order instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate the Clean Power Plan, which would cap power plant emissions
Before the Senate hearing Mr Trump sent out a series of tweets criticising the investigation into potential collusion between his campaign and Russia. In those tweets, Mr Trump charged that Mr Comey was the best thing to happen to his 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton because the FBI director had found that her use of a private email address while serving as secretary of State was not breaking the law.
"Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?" Mr Trump tweeted.Reuse content