Rubio warns that election interference may ramp up around Election Day

Rubio warns that election interference may ramp up around Election Day
© Greg Nash

Acting Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFive years after the Pulse nightclub massacre the fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues Rubio calls on Biden to 'forcefully' confront Iran over movement of war ships Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua MORE (R-Fla.) on Wednesday said that adversaries were working to interfere in U.S. elections either on or after Election Day, adding to recent warnings from other top federal officials about election threats.  

“WARNING. The bulk of disinformation attacks prepared by our adversaries were designed for the days before & just after Election Day,” Rubio tweeted. "They may come faster than they can be spotted & called out, so word to the wise, the more outlandish the claim, the likelier it’s foreign influence.”

A spokesperson for Rubio did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on Rubio’s tweet. 


A spokesperson for Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOutrage grows as Justice seeks to contain subpoena fallout The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week The tale of the last bipartisan unicorns MORE (D-Va.) told The Hill that Warner “concurs wholeheartedly with Senator Rubio’s tweet.”

Rubio’s warning comes a week after Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeFive things to know about the new spotlight on UFOs Extraordinary explanations for UFOs look increasingly plausible Sunday shows preview: US hails Israel-Hamas cease-fire; 'vast differences' remain between Biden, GOP on infrastructure MORE, alongside other top officials including FBI Director Christopher Wray, announced that Russia and Iran had gained access to U.S. voter registration data and in Iran’s case were using it to target potential U.S. voters with threatening emails. 

Rubio and Warner issued a joint statement following the announcement underscoring Senate unity around combating foreign election interference threats. 

“It is clear that Iran is now actively seeking to sow dissent and divide us, much like Russia did in 2016 and continues to do today,” Rubio and Warner said. “To the American people and the media, we reiterate the need to be skeptical of sensationalist, last-minute claims about election infrastructure. State, local, and federal officials, and partners in social media and tech, should be proud of joint efforts to shut down Iranian and Russian efforts.”

They emphasized that “to our adversaries, we reiterate DNI Ratcliffe’s warning against interfering in America’s electoral process. Republicans and Democrats are united when we say that continued attempts to sow dissent, cast doubt on election results, or disrupt our election systems and infrastructure will necessitate a severe response.”


Election security has been a mounting concern since 2016, when Russian agents launched a sweeping and sophisticated interference campaign designed to sway the vote toward now-President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE that included vast hacking efforts and a sweeping disinformation campaign on social media. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee carried a years-long bipartisan investigation into this election interference that resulted in five reports, with the last report released to the public in August.

Election interference warnings have come from multiple federal government sources, along with the private sector, over the past few months. 

William Evanina, the director of the National Counterterrorism and Security Center, issued a statement in August assessing that Russia, Iran, and China were actively interfering in U.S. elections. Microsoft in September said that it had seen evidence that hackers based in Russia, Iran and China were targeting political groups, including the presidential campaigns of President Trump and of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Saudis picked up drugs in Cairo used to kill Khashoggi: report Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting MORE

Acting Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfLawmakers slam DHS watchdog following report calling for 'multi-year transformation' Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave MORE also sounded the alarm around increasing election interference efforts around Election Day during an interview with CBS News on Tuesday. 

“We are almost a week out from Election Day, so this is the prime opportunity for any adversary, whether it’s Russia, whether it’s Iran, or it’s a cyber actor,” Wolf said, noting that the federal government “remains on high alert” to election interference from Russia, Iran, and potential cyber criminals. 

“Is that to say that they won’t try anything else? Absolutely not, we are anticipating that they might,” Wolf added about potential foreign interference. 

DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security (CISA) and the FBI have rolled out a series of joint public service announcements over the past month warning of potential foreign election interference, most recently warning last week that a Russian state-sponsored hacking group was targeting U.S. government systems and the aviation industry.

The two agencies have also warned that foreign actors and cybercriminals were likely to spread disinformation around election results this year.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have repeatedly called on the Trump administration to make more information about election threats available to the public, with top Democrats including House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNew Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat Greene apologizes for comparing vaccine rules to Holocaust Overnight Health Care: Biden pleads for more people to get vaccinated | Harris highlights COVID-19 vaccination safety | Novavax COVID-19 vaccine shown highly effective in trial MORE (D-Calif.) alleging that Russia was the key player in election interference but that federal officials are trying to play down its involvement. 

“Russia is the villain here from what we have seen in the public domain,” Pelosi said during a press conference last week. “Iran is a bad actor but in no way equivalent. And they always try to find some equivalence to protect their friend, Russia.”