With less than four months to go, how much are this year’s midterm elections at risk for the kind of interference sowed by Russia in 2016? It’s a question that’s coming up again after President Trump’s seemingly shifting positions this week about Russia’s responsibility for the interference in 2016, and after special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking the Democratic Party and state election computer networks. It would be “foolish” to think Russia is not trying to influence the 2018 elections, said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum. “They have the capability and they have the will,” Nielsen also said. But two years after the first tendrils of the Russian influence and disruption campaign were detected, the U.S. response remains incomplete because of partisan politics, bureaucratic confusion and differing priorities among state and local governments.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats offered a stark warning last week, comparing this moment to the period immediately preceding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I’m here to say the warning lights are blinking red again. Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack,” he said.
… There remains a bipartisan effort in the Senate to increase funding for election security — that would also require the Department of Homeland Security to report possible cyberattacks to states in real time and require states to conduct a post-election audit of results — but that effort is moving slowly through the Senate.