Ryan to delay election security briefing, make it classified

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

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan releases ‘teaser trailer’ about series on push for tax reform The Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms GOP set for blame over shutdown 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiLiberal groups launch effort to get progressives on key House committees Dems preparing for prolonged shutdown Jim Jordan predicts there will be no government shutdown 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 NielsenFamily of migrant girl who died in federal custody calls for 'transparent and neutral' investigation Former GOP lawmaker on death of 7-year-old migrant girl: Message should be ‘don't make this journey, it will kill you' Young girl's death draws new scrutiny over US treatment of migrants 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 ThompsonDems demand probe into death of 7-year-old in DHS custody K Street works to court minority lawmakers Black Caucus huddles as talk of term limits heats up 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.