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Ryan to delay election security briefing, make it classified

Ryan to delay election security briefing, make it classified
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's relationship with top House Republican is frosty The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only MORE (R-Wis.) has postponed a briefing for members of Congress on the security of U.S. voting systems so that it can be classified. 

The move comes after Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGohmert says Jan. 6 mob attack on Capitol not an 'armed insurrection' Meghan McCain: Greene 'behaving like an animal' GOP Rep. Turner to lead House push to address military sexual assault MORE (D-Calif.), pressed GOP leadership to make the briefing classified so that officials could go into sufficient detail about the scope of the threat and the Trump administration’s efforts to protect digital election systems from hackers. 

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Sources told The Hill that the briefing, originally scheduled for Thursday evening, has been pushed back as a result of logistical issues that prevented it from being classified. GOP leadership is now working to reschedule the briefing. 

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing MORE, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats were originally scheduled to brief members on the Trump administration’s efforts to secure digital election infrastructure on Thursday at 5 p.m. 

Ryan announced the briefing late Monday, amid widespread concerns about foreign threats to the midterm elections triggered by a Russian interference campaign in the 2016 vote that included cyber targeting of state election systems. The Speaker's announcement came on the eve of primaries in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho and Oregon.

The briefing was initially planned to be unclassified, but limited to members of Congress.

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonLawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission House lawmakers roll out bill to invest 0 million in state and local cybersecurity MORE (D-Miss.), however, charged that the unclassified nature would prevent officials from going into enough detail about efforts to protect U.S. voting systems.

“House Republicans have treated election security as a third rung issue for over a year, it is time for them to finally take this national security issue seriously,” Thompson said. “The next federal election is less than six months away.”

Pelosi, meanwhile, wrote a letter to Ryan on Tuesday urging him to make it classified to “address the seriousness of the attack on our democracy.”

The briefing is expected to be rescheduled as early as next week. 

Mike Lillis contributed.