Blumenthal: Intelligence Report is Chilling Confirmation of Russia Election Interference

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement in response to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s official declassified report on Russian hacking efforts during the 2016 election. Blumenthal also welcomed an announcement by the Department of Homeland Security designating electoral systems as critical infrastructure – a move Blumenthal called for at an Armed Services Committee hearing last year.

“Chilling, unambiguous confirmation of Russian interference in our democracy is deeply disturbing—compounded by President-elect Trump’s dismissal of our intelligence community’s efforts to discover the full extent of Russia’s cyber intrusions and interference in our electoral process. This declassified report clearly identifies Russia Today as state-sponsored propaganda and integral to Putin’s campaign to interfere in the election—making it especially deplorable that the soon to be National Security Advisor, General Flynn, accepted money to praise Russia Today in Moscow and dine with Putin at their behest. I will continue to push for an independent, bipartisan investigation of Russia’s hacking operation, and immediate and aggressive measures to hold accountable and deter further attacks on our democratic process. We cannot stand idly by while Russia interferes and threatens our critical infrastructure – which now rightly includes our electoral system,” Blumenthal said.

“I have repeatedly called for this overdue designation—we must do everything possible to protect the integrity of our election infrastructure and I encourage all state and local election officials to swiftly partner with the Department of Homeland Security to take advantage of expanded protections and assistance.”

Earlier this week, Blumenthal attended a hearing of the Armed Services Committee focusing on the evidence of Russian influence on the 2016 election as part of a coordinated cyber-attack against the United States. During the hearing, Blumenthal raised concerns at a hearing of the Armed Services Committee today regarding “very demeaning and dismissive comments” about the U.S. intelligence community made by President-elect Donald Trump that pose a danger to our national security.

Video of Blumenthal’s remarks is available here.

Blumenthal has supported bipartisan efforts to defend critical infrastructure against cyber-attacks, and has led efforts to protect online personal information against data theft. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Blumenthal also helped elevate U.S. Cyber Command to a unified combatant command, allowing for a faster and more robust response to cyber threats. Over the last several weeks, Blumenthal has been vocally supportive of a bipartisan investigation into growing evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election. “That investigation of [Russia’s] most recent effort to interfere in our elections is one that really should be done soon, it should have bipartisan support, and it should be sufficiently resources that it can be effective,” Blumenthal said at another hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee in early December. 

Blumenthal is also a co-sponsor of legislation to create an independent, nonpartisan commission to comprehensively investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The commission would fully investigate alleged Russian cyberattacks on U.S. political entities and election infrastructure, seek to identify those responsible, and recommend a response as well as actions the U.S. can take to defend itself in the future. Modeled on other independent commissions, this body would compile all available classified intelligence and open source information, conduct hearings and interviews, with subpoena power, and report its findings to Congress within 18 months from being formed. The membership of the commission would be individuals appointed by the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional leadership.