Cybersecurity receives bipartisan concern, support for upcoming 2018, 2020 elections
Published 8:12 am Friday, August 3, 2018
WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump has directed a “vast, government-wide effort” to protect American elections after Russian attempts to interfere in 2016, the White House said Thursday.
Responding to bipartisan criticism that it has no clear national strategy to protect the country during the upcoming midterms and beyond, John Bolton, the national security adviser, wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats that “President Trump has not and will not tolerate interference in America’s system of representative government.”
The warning to American adversaries came as top U.S. intelligence and homeland security officials raised alarms about potential efforts to influence the 2018 and 2020 elections. Homeland security chief Kirstjen Nielsen said: “Our democracy is in the crosshairs.”
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Their comments during a White House briefing followed weeks after Trump publicly undermined the conclusions of American intelligence agencies regarding Russian interference.
After suffering a bipartisan outcry, Trump later said he accepted those conclusions.
They, along with National Security Agency director Gen. Paul Nakasone and FBI Director Christopher Wray, appeared at the White House Thursday to try to reassure the American people they are doing everything in their power to address the threat.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers in both parties have pushed election security toward the top of the coming fall agenda amid heightened concerns about interference by Russians and others ahead of the midterm elections.
Both Republicans and Democrats have criticized the administration’s response as fragmented, without enough coordination across federal agencies. And with the midterms only three months away, critics are calling on Trump to take a stronger stand on an issue critical to American democracy.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee who has criticized Trump for not taking a stronger leadership role on election security, said he was heartened by the White House news conference.
“Glad to see the White House finally do something about election security — even if it’s only a press conference,” Warner tweeted. “Now, if only it was actually backed up by anything the president has said or done on Russia.”