The US government should “raise the cost” against Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, a high-level Department of Justice elections official told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Adam Hickey, the deputy assistant attorney general of the department’s National Security Division, was responding to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, about Russian election interference and whether the country should “pay a price” in order to deter future attacks.
“I think you have to raise the cost of the behavior, correct, senator,” Hickey responded.
Hickey also told Blumenthal the US needed to respond with more force against Russia over the election interference.
“It warrants a strong response,” he said during the hearing. “I think in this area and others we have to find ways to raise costs of malicious and malign behavior by foreign states.”
Hickey’s comments to lawmakers Tuesday contrast with past remarks from President Donald Trump, who has downplayed Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A special counsel investigation is underway to look into potential collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, which he has repeatedly denied.
Hickey testified alongside Matthew Masterson, a senior adviser for the Homeland Security department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate.
Blumenthal also asked Hickey about Trump’s tweet in March referencing “tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State.”
“Are you aware of leaking, lying and corruption within the FBI, and department of justice?” Blumenthal asked.
“No, senator,” Hickey responded.
“Are you aware that leaking, lying and corruption led to the Russia collusion investigation?” Blumenthal asked after.
“No, senator,” Hickey said.
CNN’s Marita Vlachou and Christian Sierra contributed to this report.