Pelosi presses Ryan for classified briefing on election security

Pelosi presses Ryan for classified briefing on election security
© Greg Nash
House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden on impeachment: 'I'm the only reason' it's happening Democrats to offer resolution demanding Trump reverse Syria decision Rand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter MORE (D-Calif.) is pressing Republican leaders for a classified briefing on efforts to strengthen the country’s election security ahead of the midterms later this year.
 
In a letter to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate MORE (R-Wis.), Pelosi said the decision by Republicans to hold an unclassified meeting scheduled for Thursday fails to recognize “the gravity of the assault on our electoral system.”
 
“Only a classified briefing would address the seriousness of the attack on our democracy,” she wrote.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Lawmakers have sought to raise the alarm on election security after multiple U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election with the aim of tipping the presidential race away from Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonVideo of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Ronan Farrow exposes how the media protect the powerful Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' MORE.
 
Officials have said that Russian hackers targeted digital systems involved in the election process in 21 states as part of a broader effort to interfere in the 2016 elections. While officials maintain that hackers mostly probed for vulnerabilities, they have said that in a small number of states, like Illinois, actors were able to break in — though officials insist there is no evidence any vote totals were changed. 
 
Thursday’s briefing is designed to update lawmakers on steps the Trump administration is taking to prevent similar attempts to meddle in the November midterms. Providing that update will be Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump says acting Homeland Security chief McAleenan will step down Activists to demonstrate at ICE headquarters after Cameroonian immigrant dies in custody Ex-Citizenship and Immigration Services chief returns to DHS in different role MORE, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
 
Democrats, who have urged such a briefing for months, have pushed back on the unclassified nature of the meeting.
 
Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Democrats seize on whistleblower complaint to push for election security | Google taps GOP Senate aide to lead lobbying | Warren calls for congressional tech office Democrats seize on whistleblower report to push for election security House Homeland Security chairman: 'This is election interference' MORE (Miss.), the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, argued the unclassified setting won’t allow the intelligence officials “to go into the detail necessary to properly educate members of Congress on The Trump Administration's efforts — or lack thereof — to secure our election systems from foreign interference."
 
Lawmakers are accustomed to huddling in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center to receive classified updates on issues as varied as Russian hacking and U.S. military invention in Syria.
 
 
“I urge you to make this important briefing classified to honor Members’ need to know, to recognize the prospect of further damage to our democratic system and to fulfill our responsibilities to our nation,” Pelosi wrote to Ryan on Tuesday.
 
“We are in the midst of an election season, and there is no time to waste.” 
 
Ryan’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday