Murphy and Waltz Request Briefing from FBI Over Election Interference

October 23, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson

Yesterday, Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla., sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe and Attorney General Bill Barr requesting an official briefing on Russian and Iranian interference in the 2020 election. The request comes after the FBI announced Wednesday that Iran and Russia have actively interfered in the 2020 election by allegedly obtaining voter registration data. 

In a public statement, Murphy said, “Just like in 2016, foreign actors like Russia and Iran are targeting Florida in an effort to undermine our democracy. Rep. Waltz and I have requested a briefing from federal authorities on the threat from Russia and Iran. 

“We will push for greater transparency for voters—the true victims of election interference,” concluded Murphy’s statement. 

“In 2016, Russia hacked two Florida counties’ voter data. This year, our adversaries are targeting Florida once more. Voters deserve to know the extent of this new election interference. This is why Rep. Murphy and I are requesting a briefing with the FBI for answers,” Waltz tweeted following the release of the Congressional letter. 

In the letter sent to the agency directors and AG Barr, Reps. Waltz and Murphy stated that their request for a classified briefing stems in part from recent threatening emails sent to Florida residents in Waltz’s district, which the FBI has indicated originated in Iran. 

“It [the letter] is also a response to public reporting that Iran has sent threatening, faked emails to Florida voters in Alachua County, Brevard County, and Flagler County. We understand the U.S. intelligence community believes foreign adversaries will take additional steps in the coming days to interfere in the election,” stated the letter. 

Murphy and Waltz also stated in the letter they requested a briefing since Florida was not informed of Russian interference in 2016 until the Mueller Report was published. 

It is for these reasons that Murphy and Waltz introduced the ALERTS Act, which required that Congress and the public be informed if foreign entities attempted to interfere in future U.S elections. A similar provision was enacted earlier this year in the National Defense Authorization Act. 

“We were gratified that Congress subsequently enacted P.L. 116-92, which requires the intelligence community to brief congressional leaders and certain committees when it has moderate or high confidence a foreign adversary is interfering in a U.S. election,” said the letter. 

Towards the end of the letter, Murphy and Waltz requested that the briefing be held before the 2020 Presidential election, in one week’s time. 

“We have long argued that our government should err on the side of telling citizens more, not less, when foreign powers interfere with our democracy. Our citizens can then counter the threat by scrutinizing the information they view online, checking their voter registration data to confirm it wasn’t tampered with, and holding accountable state and local officials who fail to protect election infrastructure. 

“We want to reiterate our view that continued cooperation between federal, state, and local officials to protect our election infrastructure is essential. We believe such cooperation has already resulted in significant improvements. 

“Thank you for your attention to this request,” the letter concluded. 

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