Congressional Reps Want Answers From DOJ, FBI on Florida Election Security

Two members of the Florida delegation who both worked at the Pentagon are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to “provide a classified briefing for the entire Florida congressional delegation on the nature and extent of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in Florida during the 2016 presidential election.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., teamed up on Thursday to point to the Mueller report and noted that it contained information that Russian agents were able to tap into at least one Florida county’s elections.

“Florida voters have the right to know the extent to which foreign actors may have breached our state’s election security systems, and what the federal government is doing to prevent it from happening again,” said Murphy. “We have a duty as members of the Florida congressional delegation to be fully informed on what we must do to help our state safeguard its election process, upgrade its voting infrastructure, and hold bad actors accountable. As the country’s largest swing state, we cannot allow the integrity of our democratic process to be compromised.”

“According to the report, at least one Florida county was breached during the 2016 election,” said Waltz. “The FBI needs to brief the Florida delegation on exactly what Russia did and which counties were involved so we can protect our elections and the voters.”

Murphy and Waltz wrote U.S. Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray on the matter.

“As United States representatives from Florida and former national security professionals, we write to respectfully request a classified briefing for the Florida delegation on the nature and extent of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election in our state.  We are determined to learn as much as we can about what transpired so that, as lawmakers, we can take appropriate steps to prevent such intrusions from reoccurring in the future,” they wrote.

“The Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, known as the Mueller report, states that the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU, ‘targeted individuals and entities involved in the administration of the 2016 elections’ in Florida,” they added. “Page 51 of the report says: ‘[I]n November 2016, the GRU sent spearphishing emails to over 120 email accounts used by Florida county officials responsible for administering the 2016 U.S. election. The spearphishing emails contained an attached Word document coded with malicious software that permitted the GRU to access the infected computer. The FBI was separately responsible for this investigation. We understand the FBI believes that this operation enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.

“This paragraph raises a host of critically-important questions that require answers.  We look forward to working with you to arrange the briefing for the Florida delegation on mutually-acceptable terms as swiftly as possible,” they wrote in conclusion.

 

Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.

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