- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2019

The FBI faced fresh calls Friday to release additional details about the hacking campaign that compromised election systems in Florida during the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

Rep. Ted Deutch, Florida Democrat, pressed for transparency nearly two months since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report about Russian election interference began to reveal the scope of its success in the Sunshine State.

The FBI assessed that Russian hackers infiltrated at least one Florida county government during the 2016 race, Mr. Mueller wrote in the report. Many state officials were unaware of the breach prior to the report’s publication, and individuals briefed by the FBI afterward said they were told that a total of two Florida counties had been compromised. Nearly no further details have emerged since, however, and Florida’s governor said he signed a non-disclosure agreement legally preventing him from revealing what counties were hacked.

A member of the House Judiciary Committee with jurisdiction over the FBI, Mr. Deutch wrote Director Christopher A. Wray after the briefing urging him to consider sharing further information about hacking campaign with the public.

Charles A. Thorley, acting section chief for the FBI’s office of congressional affairs, replied June 4 but offered no response to the request, according to a copy of the correspondence released by the congressman’s office.

“While I appreciate the FBI’s classified briefing to the Florida delegation, we can’t expect Floridians to have faith in our elections systems and process unless they understand what happened to them in 2016. This information should be declassified so we can work to strengthen our system and prevent future hacks,” Mr. Deutch said in a statement.

“The FBI’s response to me, besides offering no information beyond simply citing the briefing which I attended and acknowledged in my letter, offers no argument for why this information must remain classified. I will continue to push the Bureau to bring more of this information to light,” the congressman continued.

The FBI did not immediately return a request for comment.

Released on April 18, the sprawling, heavily redacted Mueller report summarized the special counsel’s investigation into what it described as a “sweeping and systematic” effort by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election by using state-sponsored hackers and other operatives. Moscow has denied the claims.

The FBI assessed that the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, successfully hacked into the network of at least one Florida county government by first compromising a third-party vendor, according to the special counsel’s report. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, revealed after being briefed by the FBI afterward that “two Florida counties experienced intrusion into the supervisor of election networks.” Neither has been officially identified.

No vote tallies were manipulated as a result of the Russian efforts, Mr. DeSantis said last month.

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

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