GOP rep fears Russian interference turning cybersecurity partisan

GOP rep fears Russian interference turning cybersecurity partisan

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) said Thursday that he is worried about cybersecurity issues becoming increasingly partisan as a result of the conversation about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Ratcliffe, who chairs a congressional cybersecurity subcommittee, said that the discussion surrounding Russian interference efforts is the first evidence of cyber issues getting “contaminated” by partisanship. 

“It has not been [partisan]. My concern is it’s starting to be. When you look at Russian interference with our election, this is really the first time where I’m starting to see the cybersecurity issues get contaminated, frankly, by partisanship where I wish that was not the case,” Ratcliffe said at a national security forum on Capitol Hill. 

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) agreed that the issue of Russian interference should not be a partisan one. 

“I don’t want to see the Russian interference in our elections as becoming a partisan issue,” Langevin said. “In my mind, I don’t know that it is, but I could see John’s point in that it could be politicized.”

The issue of Russian election interference has put Republicans in a tricky position, given the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government aimed to damage Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDem targeted by party establishment loses Texas primary Penn to Hewitt: Mueller probe born out of ‘hysteria’ Trump claims a 'spy' on his campaign tried to help 'Crooked Hillary' win MORE and aid President Trump in the election. Many have walked a fine line between accepting the conclusions and casting doubt on the possibility of collusion between Trump associates and Moscow, which is under federal investigation.

Democrats, meanwhile, have seized opportunities to tie Trump to Russia and raise alarm about the interference campaign, some characterizing it as an act of war. 

Trump has cast doubt on the intelligence community’s findings and described the Russian hacking effort as an excuse peddled by Democrats for losing the presidential election. 

He tweeted Thursday morning, “Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks (long prior to election). It's all a big Dem HOAX!” 

Ratcliffe said Thursday that it is incumbent on Republican leadership and the White House to lead on cybersecurity. 

“Increasingly, we are all seeing that it is the invasion of our digital borders which is the greatest national security threat,” Ratcliffe said. “That has to be the messaging for this not to become an area too contaminated with partisanship.” 

Ratcliffe chairs the subcommittee with oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity responsibilities.