Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Releasing the Election Security Task Force’s Final Report
Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Members of the Congressional Task Force on Election Security for a press conference releasing its final report including ten specific recommendations on what the federal government and states can and should be doing to secure our nation’s elections. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much Congresswoman [Val Demings] for your strong leadership, giving us the benefit of your strong Florida leadership in terms of the political and electoral situation there, but also as a former police chief of the city of Orlando, for your direct knowledge of our vulnerability in every way.
We all take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I want to congratulate this Task Force for their leadership. Many of them wear two hats as they come to this table.
[Looks at poster] Oh yesterday, I have something to say about that.
Wear two hats about protecting the American people. The Election Security Task Force has produced a great document and legislation that can act upon the concerns we have. I want to commend our distinguished Ranking Member Mr. Bennie Thompson who’s been a Member of the Committee since its origin. Since day one. So he knows full well the full array of assaults on our homeland security and has studied this issue, advocated for it long before it was in the public domain. Thank you Mr. Chairman to-be.
Ranking Member Brady comes as a Member of the Defense Committee – what is the name of your committee? Armed Services Committee. I was thinking of subcommittee. But on the Armed Services Committee, understanding the responsibility to protect the security of America and he does so in terms of our military strength, the strength of our people but also the strength of our institutions as the Ranking Member on the House Administration Committee. So the two of them co-chairing this Task Force gave us great leadership.
When we hear Mr. [Cedric] Richmond talk about this, he comes to this not only from the standpoint of homeland security but also from the Judiciary Committee, again, the responsibility of protecting our voting system and yet another arena, he spoke so eloquently about that. [Congresswoman] Zoe Lofgren has served on Homeland Security [Committee], serves on Judiciary Committee and a senior Member of the House Administration Committee, so she comes at it from several directions.
Congressman Langevin on the Armed Services Committee, also an expert on cyber security on that Committee as well as when he was on the Intelligence Committee. So, again, coming to this Task Force of the Joint Committees, he brings great expertise.
I say this because their experience runs deep. I started with [Congresswoman] Demings, who was our final speaker, until I spoke, in her experience to begin with. So these Members of Congress have taken a serious interest in this subject over a long period of time. So they were prepared to make judgements as members of this Task Force about what we need to go forward.
It has been more than a year since the intelligence community presented its assessment to the world. The last was January 6th of last year. More than 13 months have gone by and we have not seen action taken that would be commensurate. Well, we need full accounting for Russia’s attacks on the 2016 election from this Administration too. The President and the House Republicans have done nothing.
Now let us talk about these folks—some of these folks—at the table, and some others. Yesterday, FBI Director Wray testified that the President had not directed the FBI to take action to counter Russian interference. Meanwhile, House Administration and Homeland Security Committees still have yet to hold a hearing on Russia’s meddling in our election. We must hold the President accountable to his oath of office to make protecting our democracy a priority—our democratic system a priority.
Let us talk about some others who have spoken on the subject. Two weeks ago, CIA Director Pompeo warned that he has ‘every expectation that Russia will interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.’ At yesterday’s hearing—a Worldwide Threats hearing—Director of National Intelligence Coates said ‘the U.S. is under attack.’ And so, that list goes on—there are other statements. Now, the FBI Director—I told you what he said—but Coates, in another setting, said, ‘Frankly, the United States is under attack.’ This is the Director of National Intelligence, Coates. ‘Frankly, the United States is under attack. Russia will pursue even more aggressive cyber-attacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances.’ It goes beyond our country—they want to do it other places as well.
Secretary of State Tillerson, he had this to say, ‘Russia is already trying to meddle in this year’s midterm Congressional elections and I do not know that I would say we are better prepared.’ Attorney General Sessions, on this subject, when asked if the U.S. Government is doing enough to combat future Russian aggressions, Sessions responded, ‘Probably not. We’re not. The matter is so complex that most of us are not able to fully grasp the technical dangers that are out there.’ Well, the list goes on and on, the statements reinforce each other.
They have refused to take inventory of what our resources are and need to be. They have refused to assess what the danger is to our electoral system. While the intelligence community has clearly by consensus told them what it would be. They now have a blueprint on how we can to proceed, presented by this distinguished Task Force in the form of legislation. Upgrade the systems, put the resources there to do so, reinforce the idea that, as several presenters have said about the critical infrastructure designation, Mr. [Cedric] Richmond said that earlier, as did our Ranking Member Mr. [Bennie] Thompson. This critical infrastructure designation is very important and yet there are some on the other side who are trying to undermine that designation.
And it has to be done again, with resources, with openness, in a bipartisan way so that the American people have confidence when they vote, if they are eligible to vote, when they vote, their vote will be counted as cast. That is the sacred privilege that we have, that our country was founded on, that we have had our struggles over time to expand – civil rights movement, women’s rights movement, etc – to make sure – people fought hard for this right to vote.
We cannot let the Russians laugh about and take joy in the success they had in the last election in disrupting the last election, as they go forward to do so again. Not only in our country but in other countries. Their goal is to undermine democracy. And by attacking the very central pillar of our democracy, our voting system, they have every intention of doing just that. And the technology only gets more and more sophisticated. We know that. Why aren’t we doing something about it?
I thank this Task Force for taking us in a direction, providing the leadership to do just that, to help us protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. With that, I’m sure our Task Force members would be happy to take any questions.
# # #