Following Recent Mueller Indictments In Russia Investigation, Schumer & Klobuchar Call On Trump Administration To Issue Public Report On Russia Efforts To Interfere In 2018 Elections, & Call For Major Increase In Federal Funds To Protect Integrity Of American ElectionsFebruary 21, 2018
Democratic Leaders Schumer & Pelosi Also Joined Top Appropriators In Releasing Letter To Leader McConnell And Speaker Ryan, Urging They Significantly Increase Funding In Upcoming Omnibus For FBI And DHS That Will Be Tasked With Countering Russian Cyber Threats In 2018
Dems: Our Law Enforcement & Election Officials Both Need The Resources & Information That Will Help Them Combat Russian Efforts To Undermine Our Democracy
Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who is Ranking Member on the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, today urged Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to issue a public report detailing the ways in which Russia is working to influence the upcoming 2018 elections. The Senators released the letter they penned with Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), where they urge top U.S. intelligence officials to provide state and local election officials the tools and information they need to combat Russian cyber threats. Just one week ago, Director Coats and five other top intelligence officials testified during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that that there is no indication that Russia has decreased its efforts to undermine our democracy and that Russia is currently working to disrupt the upcoming 2018 elections. The Senators said that, with the next election just around the corner, time is of the essence if the U.S. is to prevent and stymie further Russian attempts to undermine U.S. democracy.
This action comes on the heels of another letter Schumer unveiled today, which he sent with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan. In the letter, the House and Senate Democrats urged Republican leaders to provide significant funding increases to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and Election Assistance Commission in the upcoming omnibus spending bill in order to give these agencies the resources and information they need to prevent further election meddling.
Copies of both letters appears below:
Dear Director Coats and Secretary Nielsen:
In order to help protect against foreign interference in the 2018 elections, we write to request that you work together and with others in the intelligence community to immediately inform election officials and relevant congressional committees about current threats to our election system.
Director Coats, this week at a Senate Intelligence Committee, you and five other top intelligence officials testified that there is no indication that Russia has decreased its efforts to undermine our democracy and that Russia is currently working to disrupt the upcoming 2018 elections. Other Administration officials, including Secretary Tillerson, have confirmed that Russia is continuing its efforts to destabilize democracies across the world, including our own. Russia is not deterred, and the attacks on our democracy have continued.
The next federal election is 263 days away, and the first primaries begin in a few short weeks. However, as you acknowledged in your testimony this week, little has been done at the federal level to protect our election systems from another attack. The least we can do is ensure that state election officials – the people on the front lines of our democratic process – have the information they need to combat threats. This is vital to protecting our national security against cyberattacks.
The public also needs to know the ways in which Russia is working to subvert our democracy in order to better distinguish between propaganda disguised as news and real, reliable information. Therefore, we strongly urge you to release a public report identifying how Russia is working to interfere in the 2018 elections and to provide a classified appendix to relevant Senate and House Committees as well as state election officials with the proper clearances. In the appendix, please include information regarding our intelligence agencies’ current collection posture with regard to Russia’s attempts to sabotage U.S. elections and whether such information been prioritized as a collection target.
Given the proximity of the next elections, time is of the essence.
We look forward to working with you to protect our election systems from foreign interference.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Dear Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan:
The most essential elements of America’s democracy are under attack by a foreign adversary and Congress must respond immediately. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent criminal indictment provides further evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his operatives undertook significant covert activities to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections. In order to counteract another attack in the 2018 elections, America must bolster our domestic defenses. Accordingly, we must provide urgently needed resources in the FY2018 Omnibus due on March 23rd for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterintelligence activities; the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to assist state and local governments enhance their election infrastructure security; and Election Assistance Commission state election security grants.
As Russian efforts to interfere with our democracy continue, the burden placed on the FBI to investigate and counter these operations only increases. In order to ensure our nation’s premier law enforcement agency can adequately respond to this threat, we urge you to support a $300 million increase in the Bureau’s 2018 budget request. This additional funding should be targeted to ensure the resources and manpower to counter the influence of hostile foreign actors operating in the U.S., especially Russian operatives operating on our social media platforms.
Our intelligence agencies have also made clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hackers attacked state and local election infrastructure during the 2016 election. This aggression requires state and local governments to enhance their defenses against cyber-attacks; replace outdated registration and voting systems; and ensure procedures are in place to accurately count every ballot. As State and local governments face significant resource challenges to address this threat, we recommend a substantial increase for both the Department of Homeland Security and Election Assistance Commission’s activities to assist state and local governments with the security of their election infrastructure. These investments are critical for elections in 2018 and beyond and for the resiliency of our democracy.
These attacks and Putin’s ongoing efforts to again interfere in our upcoming elections demand a robust and urgent response, and Congress must respond immediately to attacks on our democracy by a foreign adversary. We urge you to join us in vigorously combating efforts to sow discord in our country and support our state and local officials with the critical resources they need to protect our election systems.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
U.S. Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY)