Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said there was “no question” the U.S. midterm elections would be safe from foreign interference, a level of certitude that is … shall we say, not widely shared? “That’s a dangerous level of confidence for someone in that position to have,” Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor at the forefront of the election security debate, told MC. Halderman said that perhaps intelligence sources might not see any indications of foreign planning to further disrupt elections, but “frankly, you don’t know what you don’t know.” Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley said this about Pompeo: “I wish I could be so confident.” Robert Johnston, credited with discovering the DNC hack while working at CrowdStrike and now CEO of Adlumin, told MC there are already signs Russia has interfered in the 2018 races. Some of the suspect incidents have surfaced in California’s congressional races and the U.S. Senate.
Pompeo’s remarks came the same day President Donald Trump surprised and baffled many with allegations that China was digitally interfering in the midterms, motivated by anger at him for his trade stances. The administration’s call with reporters did little to assuage the confusion. “I think it’s a diversion. It makes absolutely no sense,” Quigley, a member of the Intelligence Committee, told MC. “I think the Chinese would love to be involved in our democratic process, but they have other tactics.”
While some credible sources unaffiliated with Trump have hinted to MC that Russia isn’t alone in its targeting of the 2018 elections, the effort by some in the Trump administration to shift attention away from Russia and toward China’s cyberspace activities has been especially pronounced.