Foreign governments continue to try to influence U.S. elections, the director of national intelligence warned Friday in a joint statement from agencies, including the FBI and Justice Department. A Russian national was charged Friday in Virginia with allegedly trying to interfere with the 2018 election, authorities said. Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, was charged with playing a central role in Project Lakhta, which had an operating budget of $10 million from January through June, to provide “information warfare against the United States,” according to the indictment. But a top Department of Homeland Security official said Friday he isn’t aware of any hacking attempts against U.S. election systems this year, as happened in 2016. The continuing threat from Russia, China, Iran and others is to influence U.S. elections through misinformation, he said.
“We’re not seeing anything remotely close to 2016,” said Christopher Krebs, undersecretary of Homeland Security, who led a tabletop exercise Friday with federal, state and local officials striving to protect the integrity of the voting system.
The lack of activity raised questions for Krebs.
“I’m kind of paranoid by my disposition anyway. When I’m not seeing a lot of activity, that gets me thinking through some worst-case scenarios,” Krebs said. “What might they be doing? Might they be waiting for 2020? Or might they have other plans that they could trigger in the intervening two and a half weeks?”