Chairman Nadler Statement for the Hearing on Securing America's Elections Part II: Oversight of Government Agencies
Washington, October 22, 2019
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issued the following statement for the hearing on “Securing America’s Elections Part II: Oversight of Government Agencies.”
“In 2016, our elections were attacked. Three years later, our intelligence community has universally confirmed that foreign actors have redoubled their efforts and are preparing, as we speak, to attack our 2020 elections.
“We know the threat picture. But three years since the 2016 attacks, we have not done enough to combat these threats.
“We know—through our agencies and our independent experts—what must be done. Our agencies and experts have set forth concrete recommendations. It is now our responsibility to make sure those recommendations get implemented – to ensure that all levels of our government are taking the steps needed to safeguard our democratic processes.
“But despite the severity of the threat, and the universal consensus that more government aid is required, the President and his Administration have blocked security efforts and have consistently cut programs designed to safeguard our elections.
“For example, according to multiple senior officials, including the former Secretary of Homeland Security, President Trump’s chief of staff issued instructions not to mention election security ‘in front of the President.’
“Another senior Homeland Security official reported that despite his Department’s conclusion that the U.S. needs to ‘significantly step up its efforts’ to block foreign influence campaigns, his Department was ‘stymied by the White House’s refusal to discuss it.’
“Moreover, on January 3, 2018, the White House disbanded the Commission on Election Integrity. Shortly thereafter, the White House eliminated the cybersecurity coordinator position on the National Security Council. In February 2019, Homeland Security officials revealed that the Executive Branch dramatically downsized two teams fighting foreign election interference. And the President’s 2020 budget proposed cutting funding for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency—our main election security agency—even further.
“Our enemies are agile, persistent, and constantly intensifying their methods of attack. I am extremely troubled that the Administration’s policies will handicap our agencies in their efforts to secure our elections. We must listen to our agencies when they ask for more resources, and strengthen our efforts to match the evolving threat – not, as the Administration has done, cut resources where they are most needed.
“But what is most disturbing is that the latest threat to the integrity of our elections has come from the President himself.
“We now have concrete evidence that the President has directly solicited foreign leaders to interfere in our elections. President Trump said to President Zelensky of Ukraine: ‘I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. . . . I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. . . . There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, . . . so whatever you can do with the Attorney General that would be great.’
“The President of our country reached out to a foreign leader and asked him point blank to meddle in our elections. And he did not stop there. Earlier this month, the President publicly stated that, ‘China should start an investigation into the Bidens.’
“The President has defended these actions, which should no longer come as a surprise. During the 2016 elections, then-candidate Trump publicly asked Russia to hack into his opponent’s e-mails: ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,’ he publicly stated on television. As candidate for President, Trump encouraged a foreign adversary to illegally hack into his opponent’s emails and release sensitive information. And in June of this summer, the President told an ABC reporter that he would do it again—when asked what he would do if a foreign government offered him information on his opponent in the next election, President Trump said without hesitation: ‘I think I’d take it.’
“The President’s actions are unacceptable. If we ask other governments to interfere in our elections, if we undermine the public’s confidence in the integrity of our voting processes, we are doing our adversaries’ work for them.
“We cannot continue to undermine our own democratic values on the world’s stage. Regardless of the President’s actions and statements, we must work together to secure our democratic processes. Election Security cannot be a partisan issue – it must be an American issue.
“Even with all of our efforts, our systems will be targeted—they may even be breached. It is how we respond that will define us. And I am confident that working together, we will be up to the task of defending our voting systems.
“I thank this Committee, including Ranking Member Collins, for joining me in this task. I thank the witnesses from our federal agencies for appearing here today, for your ongoing work to protect our elections, and for your continued willingness to improve your efforts. I look forward to hearing your testimony, and to finding ways to work together to ensure that each and every American feels confident in the accuracy and integrity of his or her vote.”