Ryan to delay election security briefing, make it classified

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

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump slams 'rogue' Sasse after criticism of executive actions Wary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey 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 PelosiKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks 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 NielsenTrump's acting ICE chief to leave post Trump's fight with city leaders escalates Neo-Nazi pleads guilty to 'swatting' Black church, Cabinet official, journalists 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 ThompsonProgressive Caucus co-chair: Reported oversight change in intelligence office 'seems a bit...fascist' House lawmakers to launch probe into DHS excluding NY from Trusted Traveler Program Cuomo says Wolf, Cuccinelli violated oath of office and should be investigated 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.