Russia's influence campaign is driven by a desire to "watch us tear ourselves apart," a senior FBI official said Monday, comments that come after details of a classified briefing to lawmakers became public in news reports, including a claim by the intelligence community's top election security official that Moscow is interfering with the goal of helping President Donald Trump.
They also come as CNN is learning that details related to Russia's preference for Trump were not discussed in another classified briefing with committee staff, which took place prior to the closed-door meeting with lawmakers that has come under scrutiny in recent days.
Speaking at a conference on election security in Washington, David Porter, the assistant section chief of the FBI's Foreign Influence Task Force, said that Russia is waging a "brazen and disruptive" operation against the U.S. aimed at dividing the population and undermining traditional sources of information, like the news media, to make room for misleading narratives.
"Election interference is one of the vectors in this space. It's designed to degrade confidence at the very foundation of our democratic system and our leaders' ability to govern," Porter said.
"It's also designed to weaken the adversary from within by identifying existing political and social issues and driving wedges into those fractural lines and [amplifying] them through online manipulation and disinformation in an effort to create an environment of permanent cacophony, unrest and conflict," he said.