Homeland Officials To Talk Election Security

Kirstjen Nielsen and Jeh Johnson testify about election security during

"The threat of interference remains and we recognize that the 2018 midterm and future elections are clearly potential targets for Russian hacking attempts", said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson, who was nominated to the role by President Trump, in her opening remarks. There is no evidence, however, that any votes were changed. And he said the initial response under the Trump administration wasn't much better.

"It does seem plain", Johnson said, "that the Russian effort has not been contained".

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

"Today I can say with confidence that we know whom to contact in every state to share threat information", Nielsen said. Nielsen repeated the agency's findings previous year that 21 states had experienced initial probing of their systems from Russian hackers in 2016 and that a small number of networks were compromised, but that there remains no evidence any votes were actually altered.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the committee, said that the Obama administration and states were "caught flat-footed" during the 2016 election, failing to notify the states about the threat until fall 2016.

And federal and state officials are struggling to close obvious gaps in the country's election infrastructure, such as requiring the use of voting machines that leave a trail of paper ballots and more secure logins to voting databases.

More news: Trump Hits Again at Mueller, Invoking Alan Dershowitz's Support

Senators of both parties expressed concern that DHS had not and still is not responding to the threat with enough alacrity.

Such practical matters were the focus of a set of recommendations that the Senate committee released on Tuesday, and were to be a central subject at Wednesday's hearing.

The committee's co-chairman, Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) lashed out at President Trump for allegedly not confronting Putin recently on the overwhelming evidence of Russian Federation wrongdoing.

Nielsen and former department Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, one day after the panel issued a list of recommendations to bolster election security at the state and federal levels.

Johnson said he and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued on October 7, 2016, "a pretty blunt statement".

"It was below-the-fold news", Johnson said, since it had coincided with the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

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