WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) questioned Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence open hearing on the threats to election infrastructure and improving election security.
During Senator Heinrich’s questioning, Secretary Johnson emphasized that Russian interference has not been contained or deterred and more needs to be done by the current Administration to protect U.S. elections. Both Secretary Johnson and Nielsen agreed with Senator Heinrich that a cyber doctrine is necessary to deter future foreign interference. Senator Heinrich recently led a group of bipartisan Senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee urging the completion and announcement of our nation’s cyber deterrence strategy.
Senator Heinrich expressed concern that President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Russian interference in the 2016 election undermines the legitimacy of cyber threats and creates a challenge in ensuring that state and local officials take threats seriously and take action to implement solutions. Secretary Johnson reiterated the importance of having President Trump acknowledge these cyber threats in order to send a credible message to state and local officials, the American people, and the rest of the world.
Senator Heinrich has led bipartisan efforts to strengthen election cybersecurity in America and protect against foreign threats. He introduced the Secure Elections Act to improve and modernize protections for our voting systems, registration data, and ballots to prevent theft, manipulation, and malicious computer hacking.
Both Secretary Nielsen and Johnson concurred with the bipartisan recommendations on election infrastructure that the Senate Intelligence Committee released earlier this week, many of which are echoed in the Secure Elections Act.
Senator Heinrich recently joined U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) in sending a letter to Secretary Nielsen calling on the DHS to step up its efforts to protect the United States from Russian interference in our elections. In their letter, Senators Heinrich and Collins requested that the Department inform Congress about any additional authority or resources that it requires to ensure that state election agencies have the resources they need to secure their voting systems.
A list of witnesses and testimony, and the archived webcast of today's hearing will be available here.