Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the US has a “great deal more work to do” to safeguard the integrity of American elections ahead of the upcoming 2018 midterms.
“I have to say there is more work to do,” Pompeo told lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We have not been able to achieve deterrence, effective deterrence of some of these efforts of the Russians.”
Asked if the administration has forestalled the next attack on US democracy, Pompeo said: “No responsible government official would ever state that they have done enough to forestall any attack on the United States of America.”
“We work diligently on it each day we reduce threats, we take them from the battlefield, we take them from the economic sphere, we reduce them diplomatically, we work hard at it every day but I will never share with you that I believe we have accomplished that to 100% certainty,” he said.
However, Pompeo also added that he is “incredibly proud” of the Trump administration’s efforts to counter Russia, which he described as “light years” ahead of previous administrations.
“This administration has taken enormous efforts to push back on Russia that have not been done in an awfully long time either here in the United States or frankly from our partners who are even more threatened by Russia than we are in Europe and elsewhere,” he said.
Last year, as CIA director, Pompeo noted that outside interference remains a threat to the midterm elections in 2018 and the next presidential election in 2020.
“We are at risk in 2018 and 2020 … we are always at risk,” Pompeo said at the time.
On Tuesday, House members received a classified briefing on the federal government’s efforts to secure state elections for the 2018 midterms.
Some lawmakers have raised concerns that the federal government has not adequately prepared states for the continued threat from Russia and other countries to meddle in the upcoming elections.
After the briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made the case that other state actors — including Iran and China, along with Russia — will try to meddle again in 2018. And she laid out what she believes is a comprehensive federal-state strategy on combating foreign inference.
The briefing itself was lightly attended by House members, with several lawmakers saying only 40 to 50 were in attendance.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju contributed reporting.