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NCSC chair, Rubio, Warner weigh in on foreign threats to 2020 election process

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National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director Bill Evanina acknowledged today the threats from foreign actors on the 2020 election process.

“Foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process,” Evanina said. “They may also seek to compromise our election infrastructure for a range of possible purposes, such as interfering with the voting process, stealing sensitive data, or calling into question the validity of the election results.”

With that acknowledgement, though, Evanina feels it “would be difficult for our adversaries to interfere with or manipulate voting results at scale.”

“Many foreign actors have a preference for who wins the election, which they express through a range of overt and private statements; covert influence efforts are rarer. We are primarily concerned about the ongoing and potential activity by China, Russia, and Iran,” Evanina said.

Senate Intelligence Committee Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) issued the following joint statement in response to Evanina’s statement on election security:

“NCSC Director Evanina’s statement today builds on and provides additional context to his previous statement two weeks ago. We thank him for providing this additional information to the American people, and we look forward to his continued engagement, along with other members of the Intelligence Community and the Administration, with the public over the next 87 days.

“Evanina’s statement highlights some of the serious and ongoing threats to our election from China, Russia, and Iran. Everyone — from the voting public, local officials, and members of Congress — needs to be aware of these threats. And all of us should endeavor to prevent outside actors from being able to interfere in our elections, influence our politics, and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.

“In recent weeks, Evanina, other parts of the Intelligence Community, the FBI, and DHS have provided additional information and briefings to most members of Congress. We thank them for that engagement and encourage them to continue to make this information available. We believe more of the information that was made available in these briefings can, and at the appropriate time should, be shared with the voting public, and we encourage the Intelligence Community to do so in a manner that protects the sources and methods used to collect such information.

“One of the main lessons of 2016, as highlighted by our Committee’s three-and-a-half-year bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere in that election, was that one of the best ways to combat such efforts is to share with the voting public as much information about foreign threats to our elections as possible. Evanina’s statement today moves us closer to that goal.

“And we encourage political leaders on all sides to refrain from weaponizing intelligence matters for political gain, as this only furthers the divisive aims of our adversaries.”

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