White House Has Given No Orders to Counter Russian Meddling, N.S.A. Chief Says

“President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion that there’s little price to pay and that therefore ‘I can continue this activity,’” Admiral Michael S. Rogers told a Senate committee on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — Faced with unrelenting interference in its election systems, the United States has not forced Russia to pay enough of a price to persuade President Vladimir V. Putin to stop meddling, a senior American intelligence official said on Tuesday.

Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the departing head of the National Security Agency and the military’s Cyber Command, said that he was using the authorities he had to combat the Russian attacks. But under questioning during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he acknowledged that the White House had not asked his agencies — the main American spy and defense arms charged with conducting cyberoperations — to find ways to counter Moscow, or granted them new authorities to do so.

“President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion that there’s little price to pay and that therefore ‘I can continue this activity,’” said Admiral Rogers, who is set to retire in April. “Clearly what we have done hasn’t been enough.”

Admiral Rogers’s testimony was the second time this month that a senior American intelligence official had said that Russia’s efforts to meddle in American elections did not end in 2016, and that the Trump administration had taken no extraordinary steps to stop them. He and other intelligence leaders warned two weeks ago on Capitol Hill that Russia was using a digital strategy to worsen political and social divisions in the United States, and all the intelligence chiefs said they had not been expressly asked by the White House to find a way to punish Russia for its efforts.

The comments by Admiral Rogers on Tuesday reflected what appears to be a widening gap between President Trump and the intelligence agencies he runs. While the president has mocked the notion of Russian meddling in the election he won, American intelligence officials are convinced of it, and they believe Russia is now looking to interfere in the midterm elections in November.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said the Department of Homeland Security was working with state and local elections officials to prevent attacks on electoral systems, which were wider than initially thought during the 2016 vote. She also cited a program to provide $40 million to counter Russian and Chinese propaganda, though she failed to mention that the money was delivered to the State Department only after months of delays and withering criticism from Republicans in Congress.

As for Admiral Rogers, “nobody is denying him the authority,” Ms. Sanders said before blaming the Obama administration, noting that the Russian campaign began on its watch.

Asked during the earlier hearing whether he had the authority and the ability to disrupt the Russian attacks “where they originate,” Admiral Rogers replied, “I don’t have the day-to-day authority to do that.”

“So you would need, basically, to be directed by the president,” said Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.

“Have you been directed to do so?” Mr. Reed added.

“No, I have not,” Admiral Rogers said.

But, Admiral Rogers insisted, he is using the authorities already at his disposal “to begin some specific work.” He would not give details in the open hearing because the work was classified, he said.

Exactly what capabilities the United States has to deter Russian meddling are highly classified and shrouded by layers of secrecy. But the N.S.A. is known to have developed dangerous cyberweapons. A number have leaked out in the past few years, providing hackers with the tools they needed to infect millions of computers around the world, crippling hospitals, factories and businesses.

But Mr. Rogers said on Tuesday that “it’s probably fair to say that we have not opted to engage in some of the same behaviors that we are seeing, if I could just keep it at that.”

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