One of the chilling moments in testimony from this week in the impeachment hearings into Donald Trump held by the House Intelligence Committee came from Dr. Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia expert. “Russia’s security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election,” she told the committee in her opening statement. “We are running out of time to stop them.”
We are also running out of experts in the government to do so. Jeanette Manfra, a top official with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, announced Thursday that she is stepping down. “After 12 years at DHS, I’ll be leaving @CISAgov at the end of this year,” Manfra tweeted. “This is not an easy decision, as it’s been one of my greatest honors to work alongside such a remarkable team on this incredibly important mission.”
That follows last month’s blockbuster resignation of White House computer security chief Dimitrios Vastakis, who blasted the administration in his exit letter. “The White House is posturing itself to be electronically compromised once again,” he wrote. That follows an exodus of at least a dozen top- or high-level officials who have resigned or been pushed out of the cybersecurity offices in the administration. “Allowing for a large portion of institutional knowledge to concurrently walk right out the front door seems contrary to the best of interests of the mission and organization as a whole,” Vastakis warned.
At the same time, the Federal Election Commission has been rendered powerless with the resignation of its vice chairman, Matthew Petersen. That left the FEC with too few commissioners to have the necessary quorum to make decisions. Since 2015, when Moscow Mitch McConnell became Senate majority leader, not a single new commissioner to the FEC has been confirmed. So there’s no elections watchdog anymore, and a shrinking cybersecurity community to combat foreign intrusions.
It’s almost like Moscow Mitch is inviting Russia to collude and interfere in 2020.