The warning from the intelligence community was clear: Russia is going to target the 2018 election.
Russia thinks it is riding a wave of success after meddling in the 2016 election, according to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and they are likely to engage in the same tactics as the country prepares for its first midterm since President Donald Trump's election. The results will be crucial in determining whether Republicans continue to control Congress.
"We assess that Russia is likely to pursue even more aggressive cyber attacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances," Coats warned the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The strategy the intelligence community believes Russia will follow will look familiar to what was seen in 2016: propaganda, social media, false flag personas, and sympathetic spokesmen are expected. In an effort to counter these efforts, the Treasury Department plans to fully implement sanctions against Russia, encourage local election boards to adopt paper back ups to supplement their electronic voting machines, and work closer with local government.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller put Russia on notice last month when his office handed down indictments on 13 Russian nationals accused of running a massive information warfare operation against the U.S. during the last election. Using a front company called the Internet Research Agency, the Russian nationals employed hundreds of people whose sole job was to sow discord in the American populace.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently disregarded the indictments, and promised to protect the indictees.
"Never," Putin told NBC's Megan Kelly. "Never. Russia does not extradite its citizens to anyone."
Regardless, Mueller's indictments are considered an important step for those closely watching his ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia, but there are those in Congress who would like to see more.
"Congress needs to step up and provide the resources to my state and other states to safeguard their voting infrastructure," Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) told reporters. "For example, by appropriating $400 million dollars already authorized in law."
Texas has an important Senate race on the ballot this year which has the potential to shake up control of the Senate.
But Trump did not appear worried about the potential for more Russian meddling while speaking to reporters on Tuesday.
"Well the Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever," said Trump, alongside the Swedish Prime Minister. "But certainly there was meddling and probably there was meddling from other countries and maybe other individuals. And I think you have to be really watching very closely."
He added that the U.S. will "counteract whatever they do."