March 21, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In today’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) highlighted the severe threat to our nation’s electoral systems and urged action from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kristjen Nielsen.
“I spent about an hour yesterday afternoon reading the classified draft report of our Committee on this subject,” King said during his questioning. “And all along we’ve been talking about the Russians penetrating our systems and messing around with our elections. That’s not sufficient. What I learned yesterday was horrifying. What we saw wasn’t messing around or penetrating, it was a sophisticated, thorough, comprehensive, malign and malicious attack on our electoral system. And what worries me is that although the intelligence is uniform that no votes were changed, they weren’t doing it for fun in 2016. What it looks like is a test, and it was incredibly, as I say, thorough and comprehensive…This problem is not being treated with the urgency that it deserves.”
In addition to highlighting the severity of the threat, Senator King continued his push for a national cyber deterrence strategy, which he has highlighted over the last several months during hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He also urged Secretary Nielsen to expedite the security clearances for state election officials.
Senator King’s comments came in the first panel of today’s Intelligence Committee hearing on elections security, which featured former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson in addition to Secretary Nielsen. The hearing also included a second panel featuring DHS Assistant Secretary Jeanette Manfra, Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, Amy Cohen, the Executive Director of the National Association of State Election Directors, and Eric Rosenbach, the Co-Director of Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. The hearing was held one day after the Intel Committee released its recommendations to ensure election integrity. Senator King has strongly pushed for action to ensure that America’s election systems are secure, and in June 2017 he pushed top Department of Homeland Security officials to treat the matter urgently.