- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2018

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday requested “immediate hearings” from Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, in light of ongoing concerns involving the nation’s election infrastructure and its susceptibility to cyberattacks.

Led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, all 17 minority members of the House judiciary panel signed a letter urging leadership to convene hearings on election security as soon as possible. The letter cited news reports revealing the scope and severity of the Russian interference campaign conducted during the 2016 U.S. presidential race and the likelihood of Moscow meddling in the 2018 mid-terms.

“We write to request that the Committee hold immediate hearings to examine vulnerabilities in our election infrastructure, threats posed to that infrastructure by foreign actors and what steps the Trump Administration may or may not be taking to ensure the integrity of our state and federal elections,” the Democrats wrote.

“We believe the threat is urgent. The leadership of the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State should come before our Committee to inform us of their plans to protect the integrity of our election systems,” their letter said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized his military intelligence to interfere in the 2016 White House race, and their subsequent efforts culminated in a campaign that included cyberattacks conducted against U.S. election infrastructure in addition to targets associated with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, U.S. officials assessed previously.

Most recently, the DHS’s top cybersecurity official, Jeanette Manfra, said that Russians successfully penetrated voter systems in at least some of 21 states targeted during the 2016 race.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned last week that Russian operatives would most certainly target the midterm elections in November, but Democrats in the House said they aren’t convinced the Trump administration is prepared to prevent interference on par with the type of meddling witnessed during the 2016 race.

“Unfortunately, the Department of Justice appears to have taken little — if any  — action to secure our election systems going forward,” the Democrats wrote.

“We cannot afford to ignore the mounting evidence of a coordinated effort to undermine the most basic and essential aspects of democratic process,” they added. “It is our Committee’s responsibility to examine the vulnerabilities and risks facing our election processes and infrastructure in order to protect the right to vote for every American — a right that includes not just equal voting rights and access to the polls, but also confidence in the accuracy and security of our election systems.”

A representative for Mr. Goodlatte did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Russia has denied meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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