Rex Tillerson Says Russia Is Already Trying To Meddle In 2018 Midterms

US could ban imports of Venezuelan crude oil

The United States is closer to deciding whether to impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday, at the end of a five-nation tour of Latin America where he discussed the move with regional leaders.

"With respect to the vice president's trip to the Olympics and whether or not there would be an opportunity for any kind of a meeting with North Korea, I think we'll just see".

Claiming that Russia can utilize "many tools" to meddle in this year's midterms, Tillerson said that it was hard to say whether the United States was "better prepared" to deal with the alleged interference, "because the Russians will adapt as well".

U.S. President Donald Trump (right) looks toward Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during China's visit to Mar-a-Lago, Florida, on April 7. "If the point is, if it's their intention to interfere, they're going to find ways to do that".

"And we are seeing certain behaviors. If you don't, you're just going to continue to invite consequences for yourself, '" Tillerson said.

Tillerson stressed that "Russia is guilty, they agreed to take measures with regard to chemical weapons, but apparently did not". In an earlier stop in Mexico, he advised Mexican officials to be on guard for Russian interference in their elections scheduled for July.

US could ban imports of Venezuelan crude oil
Tillerson: Russia Interfered in 2016 Election, Russia Is Interfering Now, Not Much US Can Do About It

He added: "This is something that, once they decided they're going to do it, it's very hard to pre-empt it". "My advice would be ... pay attention to what's happening".

U.S. President Donald Trump previous year considered tightening sanctions on Venezuela, where energy represents about 95 percent of its export economy.

He added, however, that he was "confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election [and] that we will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won't be great".

Tillerson also said he was encouraged by Colombia's efforts to combat the illegal drugs trade and a recent surge in cultivation of coca, the raw material that makes cocaine.

US intelligence agencies, including the CIA, said in a report past year that they had "high confidence" that Russian Federation had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

While the report said the Russian operatives did not alter the vote count, they gained access to data from some state and local electoral boards.

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