Before Congress, Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted that he has failed to take any steps to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections.
Asked by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) what specific steps he had taken to further ensure election integrity, Sessions responded:
“You raise a good point. I have not followed through to see where we are on that, and I will personally take action to do so.” Sessions said that the department is busy on various agenda items, but he added, “This one is important. And I acknowledge that. But I should be able to give you better information today than I am.”
According to Mother Jones, lawmakers have complained that, though they have asked for guidance regarding legislation targeting election security, the Justice Department has not even directed them toward the officials they should contact.
“It’s outrageous that Attorney General Sessions couldn’t answer what steps the Justice Department is taking to protect our elections from foreign interference,” Schneider said in a statement to Mother Jones. “There’s nothing more fundamental to our democracy than the integrity of our elections, and I’ll be holding the department accountable to ensure we take action.”
As part of an administration that consistently downplays or denies Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Sessions' admission renews - if not affirms - concerns that Trump does not take the issue seriously.
This weekend, during a trip to Asia, Trump told reporters he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials that Russia meddled in the election, while disputing the US intelligence findings. (Trump later sought to clarify his remarks, saying on Saturday, “I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership.”)
A year after the election, Sessions has yet to do anything to prevent any future election interference.
“We’re not doing very well,” J. Alex Halderman, an election security expert and a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan, told BuzzFeed. “Most of the problems that existed in 2016 are as bad or worse now, and in fact unless there is some action at a national policy level, I don’t expect things will change very much before the 2018 election.”)