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Senator Lankford Prioritizes Election Security in Questions to DHS Chief Intel Officer

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today questioned Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray, Under Secretary for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis David J. Glawe, and Acting Director of National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Russell Travers,  during a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on “Threats to the Homeland.” This is an annual hearing to address some of the most pressing issues facing the nation’s national security and how FBI, NCTC, and DHS are working together to thwart potential threats. During the hearing, Lankford asked about DHS’ responsibility to address election security.

Lankford also referenced the Oklahoma City Bombing, which will recognize the 25th anniversary on April 19, 2020. This week, Oklahoma City commemorated 168 days until the 25th anniversary. Lankford also spoke about the Bipartisan Anti-Semitism Task Force he launched with Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV). Lankford and Rosen released a joint statement yesterday on the recent FBI efforts to thwart an anti-Semitic attack at a synagogue in Colorado.


On Oklahoma City Bombing:

Lankford: Yesterday, we had an event in Oklahoma City that we just called, ‘Day One,’ it was an event that was 168 days away from the 25th anniversary of the [Alfred P.] Murrah Building bombing in 1995. Twenty-five years ago, we lost 168 Oklahomans, many of them federal employees and their families, many of them children, and we remember distinctly well what terrorism looks like in Oklahoma City, and we have not forgotten about that. From all of us and the people and families that I live around, we want to say, ‘Thank you, that you are staying vigilant in this because we do not take domestic terrorism lightly.’

On DHS work on election security:

Lankford: Let me shift to election security. This has been an ongoing issue that Congress continues to be able to address. We’ve talked about multiple times with Department of Homeland Security and their responsibilities to be able to address election security. This Congress allocated $380 million in election security funding in 2018 to states, but the last time that I tracked those numbers, not even half of that money has been spent by the states yet. Do you have a good estimate at this point what the states have spent from the $380 million that Congress allocated to deal with election security and how do you evaluate the status of preparation for election security right now?

Glawe: Senator, as the head of intelligence, I’ll have to get back to you on the state’s allocation of those resources that we’ve sent them. We’ll take that for our question for the record to come back with you. Regarding the execution of what we’re doing within the department, you’re very aware of the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency that’s run by Director Chris Krebs has had an aggressive partnership with all 50 state election officials and territories and the lead-up to the 2018 election. We conducted over 1,400 field interviews and engagements directly with state officials just to give you an idea of our production as far as intelligence sharing directly with the state’s classified and unclassified. And the lead-up to the 2016 election, we did 224 intelligence reports. In the lead-up to the 2018 election, through my office, we had 313, and we’re going to do quite a bit more as the lead-up to 2020. We’re looking at attacks on the critical infrastructure of the election systems; but, then also as Director Way has mentioned as well, as we’re really looking at that foreign influence campaign, that covert influence, how the use of social media, the amplifying effect, to try to affect elections, but any range of things that that could be used by threat actors at the state and local level, not just the federal level. 

Lankford: Do you have what you need at this point to be able to help secure the elections?

Glawe: Senator, I’d welcomed a discussion going back with my colleagues in the department to have an answer for that; but, I can say from the department, we are aggressively posturing our resources and partnership with the FBI in partner with all of the other US intelligence community assets as well on specific collection requirements they have regarding what our vulnerabilities are. And then I would just like to highlight that we are in over 80 fusion centers as we mentioned earlier as an information touchpoint, and I created the information sharing enterprise, the backbone of the technical infrastructure, which is the Homeland Security information network, which I have to thank and I know you’re not appropriations, but you guys have funded and authorized us to use that and that’s been a fantastic information tool.