A new report from two top Trump administration officials said they have found no evidence that foreign governments had a significant impact on the integrity of the 2018 midterm elections.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Homeland Security chief Kirstjen M. Nielsen said in a Feb. 4 report to President Donald Trump that both the election and political infrastructure used during the midterm vote were free from meaningful interference. The election marked a key test for Pentagon leaders, who were using the event as a measuring stick for a new cybersecurity strategy.
In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, senior Trump administration officials worried about the potential for a series of cyber mishaps, from hacked preliminary results to inaccurate voter registration databases. Burke Wilson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber, told reporters Oct. 30 that the midterm elections was one metric that could be used to judge the success of the Trump administration’s plan to become more aggressive in cyberspace. But the administration’s worst case scenario did not
But the new report does not mean that other nations were quiet or that their efforts were non-existent during the midterm elections, only that they had no significant impact on the vote.
“Russia, and other foreign countries, including China and Iran, conducted influence activities and messaging campaigns targeted at the United States to promote their strategic interests,” Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, said in a Dec. 21 report.
During the 2018 midterm vote, the intelligence community created an election security group dedicated to preventing foreign interference. However, their work is continuing into the next election cycle. Already, the intelligence community is focused on protecting the 2020 elections, which the intelligence community says is a target for foreign nations.
“We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 U.S. elections as an opportunity to advance their interests,” Coats told lawmakers Jan. 29. “We expect them to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences and efforts in previous elections.”