Senior Trump administration officials warned Congress on Tuesday of ongoing efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2018 midterm congressional elections as the federal government prepares to hand out $380 million in election security funding to states. At a briefing attended by about 40 or 50 members of the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives, the heads of FBI, Homeland Security Department and the director of National Intelligence told members to urge states and cities overseeing elections to be prepared for threats. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters she agreed Russia was trying to influence the 2018 elections. “We see them continuing to conduct foreign influence campaigns,” Nielsen said, but added there is no evidence of Russia targeting specific races.
Nielsen said DHS is watching other countries that have the capability to influence U.S. elections, including China and Iran. “We need to be prepared,” she said.
Chris Krebs, a senior cybersecurity official at the DHS, told Reuters in an interview that he expected $380 million approved by Congress in March to help safeguard U.S. voting systems from cyber attacks to be distributed to states later this week.
DHS is assisting 48 states with election security and handed out a chart at the briefing to members seen by Reuters that said states need to have auditable systems, spend time on planning, training and drills and they should “consider investing in full system architecture reviews.”