Homeland Security chief says Russian Federation still targeting USA elections

Kirstjen Nielsen and Jeh Johnson testify about election security during

Kirstjen Nielsen and Jeh Johnson testify about election security during

Senators are expected to press Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on the department's efforts to secure state election systems as the Senate Intelligence Committee launches an effort to safeguard against foreign meddling in this year's elections.

Primary elections for congressional and gubernatorial elections began this month. She said those clearances are caught up in the backlog of more than 700,000 people who are awaiting approval by the Office of Personnel Management. "This is still a state and local responsibility, they still have to put up resources, ." he said.

"The threat is real; the need to act is urgent".

These recommendations focussed on securing the information technology infrastructure that state voting systems run on from cyberattacks and creating better lines of communication between the states and intelligence agencies.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, suggested that the Department of Homeland Security hire "a red team" of hackers to try to break into state election systems to show them how vulnerable they really are.

"We are doing our best to speed up the process", Nielsen said.

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Homeland security officials revealed a year ago that Russian hackers tried to breach election systems in 21 states in 2016.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the Department of Homeland Security should tell the public which states were affected. So far, three states - Colorado, Rhode Island and Virginia - have passed legislation to require them. "And if there are states that have been attacked, America has to know what's wrong". States report security breaches to the federal government voluntarily, so DHS says it can't share that information with the public, or even with lawmakers, if it wants to encourage those states to continue sharing which, in turn, allows DHS to continue to help defend against threats and intrusions. Join us in a conversation about world events, the newsgathering process or whatever aspect of the news universe you find interesting or important.

In response to a question from Sen.

The committee is recommending that states make sure voting machines have paper audit trails and aren't capable of being connected to the internet.

Both Johnson and Nielsen said they had "no doubt" that Russian leadership at a very high level was involved in the attempt to interfere in the US election, which USA intelligence agencies concluded was done in order to boost Trump's candidacy.

"Perhaps most of all, we need a president who will acknowledge the gravity of this threat, and lead a "whole of society" effort to harden our defenses and inoculate our society against Russia's malicious interference", Warner said in his opening statement.

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He noted that he and then-Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperRevisiting America's torture legacy Pompeo taking lead role in planning Trump's North Korea meeting: report Republicans on defensive over Russia report finding MOREissued a statement on October 7, 2016, that stated the intelligence community was confident the Russian government was behind efforts to interfere in the upcoming election.

Warner said it was "extremely troubling" that Trump did not bring up election security when he called Russian President Vladimir Putin this week and congratulated him on his election victory.

"The fact is, this is not a Democratic or a Republican issue, but one that threatens all of us".

Pressure is mounting for Congress to take dramatic steps to ensure the security of USA voting systems with just seven months to go before the crucial 2018 midterm elections.

The recommendations released by committee on Tuesday - the first such disclosure in its year-old investigation into Russia's 2016 election meddling - covered much of what experts and intelligence officials have been urging elections authorities to do for months.

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