Ballots are recounted in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Augusta, Maine.

Ballots are recounted in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Augusta, Maine. ap photo/robert f. bukaty

Federal Agencies Ramp Up Classified Plans to Protect 2020 Elections

The departments of Justice and Homeland Security delivered their joint review of meddling during 2018 to the White House.

An array of federal agencies acted on Monday to both review past and prevent future foreign intrusions in the U.S. election process.

It’s a subject that for two years has been politically sensitive for the Trump White House, which has consistently expressed skepticism at evidence that Russian meddling may have played a role in Trump’s 2016 victory.

On Monday, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen submitted a classified joint report to President Trump “evaluating the impact of any foreign interference on election infrastructure or the infrastructure of political organizations, including campaigns and candidates in the 2018-midterm elections.”

The two agencies announced: “Although the specific conclusions within the joint report must remain classified, the departments have concluded there is no evidence to date that any identified activities of a foreign government or foreign agent had a material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political/campaign infrastructure used in the 2018 midterm elections.”

The report was required under Trump’s Sept. 12, 2018, Executive Order 13848 “Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Influence in a United States Election.”

During the recent congressional election cycle, Justice and Homeland Security officials worked with federal, state, local and private-sector partners, “including all 50 states and more than 1,400 local jurisdictions,” they said. “Efforts to safeguard the 2020 elections are already underway.”

The report’s findings were “informed” by a similarly required report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the statement noted.

That office announced on Monday that it had cooperated with those two departments in a classified election security workshop for state election officials from across the country. Involving 150 individuals from 40 states, the sessions were attended by representatives from the National Association of Secretaries of State, the National Association of State Election Directors, the Election Assistance Commission, the Government Coordinating Council and the Sector Coordinating Council.

“The goal of this collaborative event was to enhance existing partnerships to ensure the sharing of timely, substantive information on threats to our nation’s critical infrastructure,” ODNI announced. “Similar classified workshops were held last year for state election officials and election vendors in connection with the 2018 elections.”