Florida lawmakers push FBI, DHS to declassify names of the two counties hacked by Russia in 2016

Florida lawmakers push FBI, DHS to declassify names of the two counties hacked by Russia in 2016
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A bipartisan House delegation from Florida said Thursday they are pushing the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to declassify the names of the two Sunshine State counties that Russia hacked during the 2016 presidential election.

The delegation, led by Florida Reps. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyLawmakers weigh in on role of private equity firms in economic recovery The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Coronavirus relief negotiations underway with lawmakers back in Washington The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided GOP to unveil COVID-19 bill MORE (D) and Mike Waltz (R), blasted the government agencies for their lack of transparency, stating that they only received a FBI briefing on Thursday because special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s report on Russian interference revealed that the bureau was investigating a Moscow-led hack into "at least one" Florida county.

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Murphy called this lack of transparency “counterproductive,” arguing that the government’s “drip and drab” release of information about the attack on Florida's election systems is eroding public confidence in their elections.

“This is an American issue, and the public deserves to know what happened,” Murphy told reporters during a press conference, surrounded by other Florida lawmakers.

GOP Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Progress slow on coronavirus bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Biden VP possible next week; Meadows says relief talks 'miles apart' Hillicon Valley: House panel grills tech CEOs during much anticipated antitrust hearing | TikTok to make code public as it pushes back against 'misinformation' | House Intel panel expands access to foreign disinformation evidence MORE (Fla.), a frequent critic of the FBI, took his criticism further, blasting the government agencies for declining to share the information, which they say must be kept secret in order to protect sources and methods, including the identity of the victims affected in the hack.

“The victims are the voters,” Gaetz said.

The lawmakers say they are looking at legislation that would require mandatory reporting from the FBI to local election partners and Congress when it comes to cyberattacks, while arguing that congressional delegations deserve FBI briefings on such national security matters unfolding in their state.

The House press conference comes two days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTrump notes GOP governor when asked why he backs mail-in voting in Florida Five people who attended meeting with DeSantis in Florida test positive for coronavirus Journalist covering Trump trip to Florida tests positive for coronavirus MORE (R) revealed that operatives with the GRU, Russia’s intelligence service, successfully gained access to voter data in two counties during the 2016 presidential election.

Florida lawmakers and politicians say they sought briefings with the FBI and DHS after Mueller wrote in his report that his office accepted the FBI's assessment that the GRU gained "access to the network of at least one Florida county government."

According to the Mueller report, the GRU operatives sent "spearphishing emails to over 120 email accounts used by Florida county officials responsible for administering the 2016 U.S. election." The emails included an attached Word document that had malware coded into it, which allowed the Russian hackers to infect the computers if the attachment was opened.

The lawmakers say the FBI assured them there is no evidence that voter data was manipulated and that the bureau had notified and were working with the two counties prior to the election.