Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Wednesday that states that aren’t asking Washington for help in protecting their election systems from hackers are “nuts.” But while Kelly said he supported the Obama administration’s decision to designate U.S. election systems “critical infrastructure,” given threats from Russia and other entities, he also acknowledged that elections remain the domain of the states. “All of the input I get from all of the states are ‘We don’t want you involved in our election process,’” he said. “I think they’re nuts if they don’t [seek help. But] If they don’t want the help, they don’t have to ask.” Kelly spoke during the opening session of this year’s Aspen Security Forum; he’s one of several officials in President Donald Trump’s administration slated to speak at the gathering, which runs through Saturday.
Kelly, a retired Marine general, received significant support during his confirmation process from Democrats, many of whom hoped he would take a nuanced approach to issues such as deportation and border security.
But many of those Democrats have since been bitterly disappointed in Kelly’s approach, including his seemingly indiscriminate crackdowns on undocumented immigrants and his support for Trump’s efforts to ban visitors from six majority-Muslim countries.