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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Russians Targeted All 50 States

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a heavily-redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 election:
In its review of the 2016 elections, the Committee found no evidence that vote tallies were altered or that voter registry files were deleted or modified, though the Committee and IC's insight into this is limited. Russian government-affiliated cyber actors conducted an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. elections...Throughout 2016 and for several years before, Russian intelligence services and government personnel conducted a number of intelligence-related activities targeting the voting process.... the Committee found ample evidence to suggest that the Russian government was developing and implementing capabilities to interfere in the 2016 elections, including undermining confidence in U.S. democratic institutions and voting processes.
...
 DHS assessed that the searches, done alphabetically, probably included all 50 states, and consisted of research on "general election-related web pages, voter ID information, election system software, and election service companies."
...
 [Michael Daniel, Former Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator, National Security Council]  told the Committee that by late August 2016, he had already personally concluded that the Russians had attempted to intrude in all 50 states, based on the extent of the activity and the apparent randomness of the attempts. "My professional judgment was we have to work under the assumption that they've tried to go everywhere, because they're thorough, they're competent, they're good."... Intelligence developed later in 2018 bolstered Mr. Daniel's assessment that all 50 states were targeted.
...
Russian intentions regarding U.S. election infrastructure remain unclear. Russia
might have intended to exploit vulnerabilities in election infrastructure during the 2016 elections and, for unknown reasons, decided not to execute those options. Alternatively, Russia might have sought to gather information in the conduct of traditional espionage activities. Lastly, Russia might have used its activity in 2016 to catalog options or clandestine actions, holding them for use at a later date. Based on what the IC knows about Russia's operating procedures and intentions more broadly, the IC assesses that Russia's activities against U.S. election infrastructure likely sought to further their overarching goal; undermining the integrity of elections and American confidence in democracy.


Jordain Carney at The Hill:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked two election security measures on Thursday, arguing Democrats are trying to give themselves a "political benefit."
The move comes a day after former special counsel Robert Muellerwarned about election meddling in 2020, saying Russia was laying the groundwork to interfere in the 2020 election "as we sit here."
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had tried to get consent Thursday to pass a House bill that requires the use of paper ballots and includes funding for the Election Assistance Commission. It passed the House 225-184 with one Republican voting for it.

But McConnell objected, saying Schumer was trying to pass “partisan legislation.”