Vice President Mike Pence reaffirmed Tuesday President Donald Trump’s position on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and that it did not change actual votes, then promised National Cybersecurity Summit participants that the U.S. “will not tolerate any foreign interference in our elections from any nation state — not from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, or anyone else.”
Pence addressed cybersecurity summit participants at the New York-based event including public servants and “leaders of industry and academia” on the Trump administration’s actions to “strengthen our digital infrastructure and defenses because we know that cybersecurity has never been more important to the American people.”
He closed his remarks on the “administration’s unprecedented action to safeguard the integrity of our elections.” President Trump has declared his and his administration’s acceptance of the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, but that it did not change the outcome.
“Russia’s goal was to sow discord and division and to weaken the American people’s faith in our democracy. And while no actual votes were changed, any attempt to interfere in our elections is an affront to our democracy, and it will not be allowed,” said Pence to applause from the crowd.
“The United States of America will not tolerate any foreign interference in our elections from any nation state — not from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, or anyone else,” he went on citing the words of president Trump, “We’re not going to have it.”
In the past year, president Trump directed his administration to create “a whole-of-government approach to strengthen election security,” said Pence. “As recently as last week, the president convened a National Security Council meeting for updates on the progress that we’ve made.”
“The FBI has formed the Foreign Influence Task Force to identify secret foreign attempts to infiltrate our society and undermine our democracy,” said Pence. “The Department of Homeland Security has launched the Election Information Sharing Analysis Center.” This center, along with all 50 states and 900 counties, works to prevent attacks and identify and stop those in progress.
The administration and Congress have provided states with $380 million to secure their election systems.
“Our administration has also launched a ‘National Cyber Situational Awareness Room’ that offers states a virtual connection between DHS and election offices on Election Day itself,” said Pence. The system was used in the May 8 primary election for Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia. Efforts are underway to expand it for use in other states in the midterm election.
Less than two weeks ago, federal officials successfully helped Finney County, Kansas fight a malware attack on their election network. Pence urged every state to “Do everything in your power to strengthen and protect your election systems.”
“We have already done more than any administration in American history to preserve the integrity of the ballot box, and we’ve just begun,” said the vice president. “As the president has said, we will “repel…any efforts to interfere in our elections.”
“We will never stifle voices in a free society, but we can expose malign and fraudulent voices when they seek to undermine confidence in our democracy, and this we will do,” Pence assured the group.