On Wednesday, ex-special counsel Robert Mueller testified Russia was gearing up to again meddle in US elections. On Thursday, a bipartisan report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee further details just why Mueller's statement is so concerning. The standout point of the first volume of the panel's findings: As the 2016 elections approached, Russia targeted election systems in every state—"an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time," per the New York Times. The committee didn't find any manipulation of vote counts or voter registry files—though it noted its insight into that "is limited," per Vox. But it found "an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure" that was aimed at identifying security weak points, though "Russian intentions regarding US election infrastructure remain unclear."
The Times notes the report shows a "cascading intelligence failure," though Vox notes the report's general assessment is that the Russians were apparently conducting a "fact-finding mission [more] than anything else." But that's actually alarming, as the report suggests the aim might have been to pinpoint vulnerabilities that could be exploited later. In Illinois, for instance, hackers "were in a position to delete or change voter data, but the Committee is not aware of any evidence that they did so." One person who did initially put out the call that he feared Russians had infiltrated all 50 states: Michael Daniel, President Obama's cybersecurity coordinator; that role was subsequently axed by national security adviser John Bolton. The next four volumes the Intelligence Committee will release will deal with, among other topics, Russia's use of social media and its interactions with the Trump campaign. (Check out Volume I here.)