WASHINGTON - Former special counsel Robert Mueller, who testified before two House committees Wednesday on his Russia probe, warned that Russian interference could happen again in the 2020 election.
Mueller also said he hoped his Russia probe report would send a message to "those who come after us." He said he wanted it to be "a signal, a flag" and said "don't let this problem continue to linger."
It was while Mueller was questioned on his report by Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, that he said the Russian interference in the 2016 election was not an isolated attempt.
"They're doing it as we sit here," he said.
Mueller reiterated that his report stated "much more" needed to be done to protect the country against interference from Russia and other countries.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, asked Mueller if election interference from other countries is "the new normal."
"I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is," Mueller said.
Welch then asked Mueller if he had any advice on how the country could better protect itself against "hostile foreign engagement" during elections.
"I would say the first line of defense really is the ability of the various agencies who have some piece of this to not only share information, but share expertise, share targets and use the full resources that we have to address this problem," Mueller said.
In his opening remarks, Mueller emphasized that the Russian government "interfered in our election in sweeping and systematic fashion."
"Over the course of my career, I've seen a number of challenges to our democracy," Mueller said. "The Russian government's effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious.
"As I said on May 29, this deserves the attention of every American."
His 448-page report, which was released with heavy redactions in April, outlined the conclusion of the investigation on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
During his hours-long testimony, Mueller made clear that his report could not exonerate President Donald Trump on obstruction of justice in the probe. But the report also stated investigators did not find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.