Pompeo says he is ‘confident’ other countries will meddle in 2020 elections
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday expressed confidence that other countries, including potentially Russia and China, would attempt to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections.
“Yes, I am confident that many countries will do their level best to have an impact on our election,” Pompeo said during a virtual event hosted by The Hill on the future of national security. “Foreign efforts to interfere in American elections is something we constantly must contend with, and we’ll contend with that here.”
Pompeo made the remarks in response to a question from The Hill’s editor-in-chief, Bob Cusack, on whether Russia was interfering in the election process this year, four years after Russian agents launched a sweeping interference campaign during the lead-up to the 2016 elections.
The secretary also pointed to the work that has been done by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security since 2016 “to make sure our adversaries understand the cost imposed” if they interfere in U.S. elections.
“The American people should rest assured that whether it’s Chinese interference, Iranian interference, Russian interference, or North Korean interference, any country, or even non-state actors who now have capabilities to try to meddle in our elections, know that this administration takes seriously its responsibility to make sure every American’s vote is counted, counted properly, and that foreign influence is minimized,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo’s remarks came two days after he spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on a variety of issues. According to the State Department, Pompeo “raised the issue” of election security, but the agency did not give further details on the specifics of what was discussed around this topic.
Election security has been an area of concern since 2016, when, according to former special counsel Robert Mueller, Russian agents targeted election infrastructure in all 50 states and launched a wide-ranging disinformation campaign on social media meant to favor the campaign of now-President Trump.
Evidence of attempts of foreign adversaries to interfere in the 2020 elections has already come to light.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a former Democratic presidential candidate, said in February that his aides had been briefed by U.S. intelligence community officials about Russian efforts to assist his campaign by spreading disinformation. Intelligence officials also told House lawmakers in February that Russia was again interfering to favor the Trump campaign, according to The New York Times.
More recently, Google’s Threat Analysis Group found evidence that Iranian hackers were targeting Trump campaign staff with malicious phishing emails, and that Chinese hackers were targeting the emails of staffers working for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign. Both campaigns told The Hill that they were aware of the threats.