Democrats are pressuring House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to subpoena the Trump administration in a months-long standoff over information about the 21 states that Russian hackers are believed to have targeted during the 2016 election.
They say Congress needs more details about how Moscow’s hackers attempted to infiltrate those electoral systems in order to help state officials bolster their digital defenses ahead of the 2018 midterms.
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“Russia attacked our states in the last election to help Donald Trump get elected president,” Repl Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the Oversight panel’s ranking member, said in a statement accompanying a letter that all Oversight Democrats sent to Gowdy on Monday. “Why is the Trump administration now concealing from Congress documents showing exactly how Russia did it?”
The subpoena request is the latest move in an ongoing battle between Democrats and DHS over details about the election hacking campaign that U.S. intelligence officials have pinned on the Kremlin.
DHS faced heavy criticism from Capitol Hill Democrats over its initial refusal to tell Congress which states the Russians targeted.
And even after the agency disclosed last June that Russian hackers had probed 21 states as part of the campaign, DHS still withheld the names of those states or any details about the digital assaults. Eventually, in September, DHS notified the 21 states that had been targeted, reading each state a generic script.
But that script is the only document that DHS has provided Congress about the incidents, Oversight Democrats said Monday.
“Despite repeated requests over the past several months, the department has refused to provide the Oversight Committee with this information, and to the best of our knowledge, has not provided it to any congressional committee,” reads the letter to Gowdy. “We have been extremely patient, but we can no longer allow the Trump administration to defy our requests and withhold this critical information from Congress.”
Democrats argued the matter is urgent, as intelligence leaders have warned that Russia — and other digital miscreants — will almost certainly target the 2018 elections.
“It is our responsibility to obtain information about what happened in 2016 so we can adequately prepare for future attempts to interfere with our democracy,” the letter reads.
Voting security experts say the time is quickly running out for Congress to move legislation that would help states upgrade aging voting machines or conduct top-to-bottom digital reviews of their electoral networks. The first 2018 primaries begin in early March.
Several bipartisan proposals have been floated that would funnel money to states to assist with these efforts, but no bill has shown signs of moving in the near future despite calls for action from many state officials.