Oversight Dems Ask Gowdy to Subpoena Documents Withheld by Trump Administration on Russian Attacks on 21 States in 2016 Election
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, all Democratic Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter asking Chairman Trey Gowdy to issue a subpoena to finally compel the Department of Homeland Security to produce documents it has been withholding from Congress for months relating to Russian government-backed efforts to monitor, penetrate, or otherwise hack at least 21 state election systems in the 2016 election.
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings issued the following statement in conjunction with today’s letter: “Russia attacked our states in the last election to help Donald Trump get elected President. Why is the Trump Administration now concealing from Congress documents showing exactly how Russia did it?”
Rep. Robin Kelly, the Ranking Member of the Information Technology Subcommittee, stated: “We know that Russians attacked 21 state election systems, including in my home state of Illinois. Congress has an obligation to help states develop technologies and protocols to prevent election interference. However, we cannot do that if the Trump Administration continues to actively conceal critical documents directly related to the security of our elections and voting systems. Chairman Gowdy needs to issue this subpoena so we can get answers and help states defend the integrity of their systems in the upcoming 2018 elections.”
On October 20, 2017, Ranking Members Cummings and Kelly sent a letter requesting copies of the notifications that the Department of Homeland Security provided to 21 states identified as targets of Russian government-linked hacking attempts: Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Illinois, Alaska, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware. They also requested all documents “related to the Russian government-backed attempts to hack state election systems.”
In response, the Department provided just one e-mail containing a short script that Department employees apparently read over the phone to state election officials. This script is 13 sentences long and does not refer to any specific state or attack. Rather, it is a generic script that provides no specific information.
“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,” all Democratic Committee Members wrote in their 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.”
On November 29, 2017, during a joint subcommittee hearing on the “Cybersecurity of Voting Machines,” Ranking Member Kelly asked Christopher Krebs, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of the National Protection and Program Directorate, when these documents would be provided. Although Mr. Krebs assured Ranking Member Kelly that a response would be forthcoming, no further documents were provided.
“The Intelligence Community has warned us that Russia intends to continue interfering with elections in the United States and around the world,” the Members wrote. “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.”
To follow-up on this request yet again, the Subcommittees sent Mr. Krebs official Questions for the Record on January 3, 2018, with a request by Ranking Members Cummings and Kelly that the Department produce, by January 19, 2018, copies of all documents related to the Russian government-backed attempts to monitor, penetrate, or hack state election systems—including the specific tools the attackers used. The Department has not produced these documents to date.
In today’s letter, the Members asked Gowdy to issue a subpoena to compel the Department to produce all of these documents by February 5, 2018.
The Members concluded, “If you choose not to do so, then we ask that you place this matter on the agenda for our next regularly scheduled business meeting so that all Committee Members will have the opportunity to vote on a motion to issue this subpoena.”
Click here to read today’s letter.