The midterms are less than a month away. But working groups inside the intelligence community charged with overseeing election security are still trying to finalize plans for countering foreign interference in the 2018 elections, three senior officials involved with the efforts told The Daily Beast. The issue came up in a meeting this month that included current senior intelligence officials and former officials who were asked to attend and provide advice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency were pinpointed as two of the departments that had made the most progress. The Department of Homeland Security, however, is lagging behind, according to officials inside the meeting.
The concern around election security is attributed, at least in part, to a lack of information-sharing between government agencies, officials said. But even if there was smooth inter-agency coordination, officials said they would still face one major hurdle: the White House’s unwillingness to talk about the main meddler in the 2016 presidential elections, Russia.
“We should have been doing meetings and talking about this two years ago,” one individual who was involved in a recent election briefing said. “There’s only been one or two meetings with the president on this because people have learned that if you want to keep your job you don’t bring up Russian interference in the White House.”
Officials across three different agencies told The Daily Beast the government as a whole has largely failed to coordinate efforts to curb outside meddling, which has many inside the intelligence community worried the country is yet again vulnerable to interference in its elections. President Trump has at times snapped at officials who broach the Russian meddling subject and instead, current and former senior intelligence officials said, has turned the conversation to what some believe is a red herring— China.