- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, requested a classified briefing Tuesday from President Trump’s national security adviser after a new report revealed that Russian hackers targeted U.S. voting systems on the eve of last year’s election.

“As Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, I request a classified briefing for the Committee on the full extent of Russian interference in U.S. election systems,” Ms. Klobuchar wrote to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Tuesday.

The Intercept reported on Monday this week that Russian military intelligence waged a cyberattack against an election software vendor in October or November 2016 followed by a spear-phishing campaign against over 100 local election officials, citing a previously unpublished and highly classified NSA assessment dated May 5, 2017.

While the U.S. intelligence community concluded months ago that Russia meddled in last year’s election campaign by hacking targets affiliated with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, The Intercept’s document suggested that state-sponsored cyber-criminals also executed “espionage operations” in an apparent bid to glean information on elections-related hardware and software.

“This information is deeply concerning and goes beyond what was outlined in the December 2016 report from 17 U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in our election,” Ms. Klobuchar wrote in Tuesday’s letter.

“As the Senate continues to investigate the full extent of Russia’s attack on our election system, it is vital that we have all of the information necessary to ensure that future elections are safeguarded from foreign interference,” she added. “In addition to a classified briefing for the Senate Rules Committee, I request that you consider making information that could be helpful to protecting critical infrastructure publicly available immediately.”

The document does not indicate if the apparent Russian espionage operation was successful, The Intercept reported.

The NSA declined to comment for The Intercept’s report. But the Justice Department announced charges later Monday against a 25-year-old intelligence contractor, Reality Winning, accused of removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to an unspecified internet-based news outlet in early May.

“Although we have no knowledge of the identity of the person who provided us with the document, the U.S. government has told news organizations that Winner was that individual,” The Intercept said Tuesday.

Russia President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied deploying Moscow’s military intelligence against the U.S. election process, but suggested last week that hackers with “patriotic leanings … may try to add their contribution to the fight against those who speak badly about Russia.”

“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. It is clear that a foreign adversary attempted to subvert the very process that defines our political system. We cannot let this happen going forward and need all of the information available about Russia’s attack as soon as possible,” Ms. Klobuchar wrote Tuesday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday regarding Ms. Klobuchar’s letter.

Ms. Klobuchar introduced legislation in January with the goal of establishing an independent, nonpartisan commission tasked with investigating allegations of Russian interference as they relate to the 2016 race. In February, she joined over two-dozen other Democratic senators in demanding a “full account” from the Election Assistance Commission with respect to its its work protecting the 2016 election from Russian hackers.

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