House committee leader questions Trump on efforts to secure elections

House committee leader questions Trump on efforts to secure elections
© Stefani Reynolds

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonBipartisan bill to secure election tech advances to House floor Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Senators urge Trump to fill vacancies at DHS MORE (D-Miss.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Dem rep defends calling Ken Cuccinelli a white supremacist Both sides claim win in White House official's impeachment testimony MORE (D-Fla.) sent a letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE this week questioning his administration's efforts to secure elections.

The letter was sent Wednesday in light of comments made by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE while testifying in front of two House committees. Mueller said that the Russians will likely try to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections, and are doing so “as we sit here.”

Thompson and Wasserman Schultz questioned Trump on his actions taken in regard to election security, in particular pointing out that he has not requested or received a briefing from federal officials about election security efforts. They also questioned why Trump has not designated a White House official to coordinate “interagency efforts” to secure elections against foreign interference.

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“It is your responsibility, as Commander in Chief, to address the threat of cyber-attacks, influence operations, disinformation campaigns, and other activities that undermine the security and integrity of U.S. democratic institutions,” Thompson and Wasserman Schultz wrote. “We implore you to treat this issue with seriousness and with the utmost sense of urgency and concern that it demands.”

The two demanded Trump both receive a briefing from senior officials on election security efforts and appoint an individual to coordinate government efforts on this topic. 

They added that “Congress must have the confidence that the administration is taking this ongoing threat seriously,” noting they had so far not seen any evidence the White House had much “interest” in securing elections.

A spokesperson for the White House did not respond to request for comment on the letter. 

Thompson’s counterpart on the committee, ranking member Rep. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersThe Hill's Campaign Report: Red-state governors races pose test for Trump Trump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race Overnight Defense: House approves Turkey sanctions in rebuke of Trump | Trump attacks on Army officer testifying spark backlash | Dems want answers from Esper over Ukraine aid MORE (R-Ala.), told The Hill in reaction to the letter that “If Democrats were serious about securing our elections, they would stop pushing partisan bills that will never become law and start working across the aisle.”

Rogers added, “All Americans need to be sure that voting equipment and systems are secure and their vote counts as they intended.”