ODNI to Give Election Security Briefings Ahead of November Vote

May 16, 2020 Updated: May 17, 2020

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that the U.S. intelligence community will lead new election security threat briefings for presidential candidates, their campaigns, and political organizations ahead of the presidential election in November.

Bill Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, will serve as the intelligence community’s point man in what the ODNI said is a “critical effort” to secure the election against potentially malicious meddling.

“U.S. elections are the foundation of our nation’s democracy. We are committed to supporting this Administration’s whole-of-government effort to secure the 2020 election,” Evanina said May 15 in a statement.

ODNI said the change is an important improvement and simplification of the threat notification process.

The intelligence community will work together with the FBI and DHS to identify threats, while Evanina and the elections team will deliver assessments to those affected by potential malicious influence.

DHS
The Homeland Security Department headquarters in northwest Washington. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo)

A senior White House official told Fox News that “the biggest complaint from the 2016 election was the lack of, and insufficiency, of briefings to campaigns and candidates,” referring to then-candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

“The last election speaks to itself, in terms of how much was going on, and how poorly the campaigns and candidates were kept abreast in order to protect their campaigns,” the White House official told the outlet.

The changes to the security briefings protocols come after a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee investigation found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

A heavily redacted report (pdf) from the Senate committee, released in April, affirmed the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia conducted a far-ranging influence campaign in 2016 approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.

Intelligence agencies concluded in January 2017 that Russians had engaged in cyberespionage and distributed messages through Russian-controlled propaganda outlets to undermine public faith in the democratic process, hurt Clinton, and boost Trump.

Then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in a statement that his panel “found no reason to dispute” the intelligence community’s conclusions, saying they reflected strong tradecraft and analytical reasoning.

He said the agencies’ conclusion that such election interference is “the new normal” has been borne out in the three years since it was published.

“With the 2020 presidential election approaching, it’s more important than ever that we remain vigilant against the threat of interference from hostile foreign actors,” Burr said.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM