DHS Secretary: Russia meddled in '16 U.S. elections, and could again

DHS Secretary: Russia meddled in '16 U.S. elections, and could again

Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday that warnings about Russian interference in the 2016 election went unnoticed because of the "Access Hollywood" tape.

"There's no reason to believe they will not attempt again", Nielsen said, adding that DHS was treating the matter with "extreme urgency" and that she had the support of the Trump administration to ensure state and local officials were apprised of the threat.

Johnson called on the Trump administration to build on those sanctions.

During her testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Nielsen said DHS is helping states to enhance their cyber security resources.

The committee is working to make sure voting machines have paper trails, so states can audit their elections following the vote.

It was held on the same day that lawmakers were expected to unveil a federal spending bill that sources familiar with the negotiations said included almost $400 million for election security.

They failed to notify the states about the threat until that fall, he said. "This was a profound misunderstanding of what a critical infrastructure designation would mean, which I tried to clarify for them".

"Today I can say with confidence that we know whom to contact in every state to share threat information", Nielsen said.

Other scheduled witnesses included representatives from the National Association of Secretaries of State, whose members oversee state election systems, and cyber security officials from the Homeland Security Department. "That ability did not exist in 2016". Russian operatives targeted the voting systems of at least 21 states leading up to the 2016 election, according to DHS, and were able to successfully hack into at least one.

"The threat is real; the need to act is urgent", Warner said. Susan Collins, R-Maine, stressing that some elections have already begun.

Nielsen said she was unaware of any federal agency, including her own, that had the authority to mandate that vendors comply with security standards. "I do not have ideal insight into the machines that the states buy", adding that some vendors voluntarily submitted machines to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for security review.

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