This week, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat representing Florida’s 7th Congressional District and a former national security specialist in the Department of Defense, alerted the nation in an op-ed in The Washington Post that there’s a lot she can’t inform the nation about concerning Russian election interference in 2016. Murphy says that what she can’t tell us puts the next election in more danger—danger that Moscow Mitch McConnell refuses to acknowledge or address.
The Florida delegation received an intelligence briefing in May, provided because Florida was a primary target of Russian hackers and of Putin’s Kremlin. A Russian group conducted a social media campaign to hurt the nation and help Trump; the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails (egged on by Trump) and published Florida-specific data from the House Democrats’ campaign organization. But the worst that they did, as detailed in the Mueller report, was to infiltrate the elections networks of states, “tantamount to an act of war, with malware rather than missiles as the weapon of choice,” Murphy writes. “While Russian cyber actors cast a wide net, Florida’s county-based election supervisors were a focal point.” A focal point Russia had success in attacking: Murphy says that at least two Florida counties had been penetrated.
But she can’t say which. As a member of Congress, she can’t work with her state officials openly and transparently to mitigate the threat. As a member of Congress, she’s not able to get the full picture of what happened in her own state. “It’s self-defeating to be given incomplete information and then be required to remain silent about the few facts we do know,” she writes. “If we can’t form a clear picture of past election interference efforts, we won’t learn how best to fend off future attacks.” This opacity, she’s been told, is not to protect our intelligence agencies’ sources and methods, “it’s that federal law enforcement agencies view local election officials whose networks were targeted as victims entitled to confidentiality.”
It’s a handy excuse, anyway. Murphy has filed a bipartisan bill to lift that veil of secrecy that would “require Congress, local officials and affected voters to be swiftly informed if an adversary infiltrates our election system and the federal government believes voter information could be affected.” That’s more legislation that Moscow Mitch refuses to allow the Senate to consider, regardless of Republican support for it in the House.
Because he knows he needs Putin’s interference in the election to keep his Republican majority? It’s been clear for a long time that Republicans have to cheat to win. Or because he owes Putin for pumping that $200 million into his state in the form of an aluminum mill? At this point, why doesn’t even matter. Moscow Mitch is Putin’s (other) toady.