Russia

Mike Pompeo — President Trump’s CIA director — is not optimistic that the 2018 midterm elections will be free of Russia’s influence.

According to BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera, Pompeo said there hasn’t been a significant decrease in Russian “subversive activity” in Europe or the United States, leading him to the conclusion that the midterm elections — in which every U.S. House seat, 34 U.S. Senate seats, and 36 governorships are up for grabs — could be potentially compromised by Russian hackers.

Following the 2016 presidential election, the Department of Homeland Security informed elections officials in 21 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington state, and Wisconsin) that hackers affiliated with Russia had tried to access their systems, with a confirmed hack in Illinois.

“It’s unacceptable that it took almost a year after the election to notify states that their elections systems were targeted, but I’m relieved that DHS has acted upon our numerous requests and is finally informing the top elections officials in all 21 affected states that Russian hackers tried to breach their systems in the run up to the 2016 election,” Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a public statement.

The 2018 midterm is seen as a crucial must-win for Democrats seeking to hamstring President Trump’s legislative agenda. Due to a rash of sudden retirements, there are 30 Congressional seats previously held by Republicans — many of them committee chairmen — that are now open. There are only 15 open seats held by retiring Democrats. In order to reclaim a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats only need a net gain of 24 seats.

Control of the U.S. Senate is also hotly contested, with Democrats only needing to flip two Republican seats to control the chamber, assuming the two independents in the chamber who typically caucus with Democrats — Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Angus King (I-Maine) continue to do so.

 

Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.

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