WASHINGTON — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the federal government may have had information about hacking that occurred during the 2016 presidential election that they were either unable or unwilling to share with individual counties impacted by the breach.
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“It’s a problem because the federal government has information not specific to Florida — let me just stay away from that, let me just say in general, and is unable or unwilling to personally tell the individual counties that are affected what’s happened to them for fear of losing access to that information, intelligence information in the future,” Rubio said in an exclusive interview with Spectrum News.
Rubio, a key member of the intelligence committee, has been warning of these threats indirectly for more than a year. However, he’s been constrained with how much information he can share.
Federal officials have yet to confirm or deny the hacking incident, but the Florida senator is providing some insight.
“Russian hackers were in a position to change voter databases. Not the outcome of the election, but mess around with voter databases,” Rubio said.
These new revelations come as lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to learn more information about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election after the Mueller report revealed hackers had breached the computer systems of one Florida county, which is still unknown.
Both Rep. Stephanie Murphy and Rep. Michael Waltz are adding their names to growing list of lawmakers who want to know more about the nature and extent of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
They are calling on the FBI and DOJ to hold a briefing for all 27 members of the delegation.
“It’s very disturbing that that omission came out, and I think we need to find out exactly where and how, and why, so we can try to prevent it again,” said Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Florida).
The largest hurdle in sharing information is that many state election officials don’t have security clearances to receive that classified information, which may be why they were caught off guard after seeing the report.
“It doesn’t even matter what size the county may be. As you well know, our elections in Florida are pretty close sometimes,” Crist said.
Sen. Rubio is sending a message to election officials in the state ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“If every county in Florida does and avails themselves of the resources that are available to them and follows the guidelines that have been provided to all of them, they are going to be okay. If they get overconfident, then I think they are asking for trouble,” he said.
The senior senator said election officials need to be vigilant to the ever-changing threats that lie ahead in 2020.
"I think Florida is an important swing state and even when the Russians interfere again, there’s no doubt Florida will be target, because we are an important and decisive state in presidential elections,” he said.
Sen. Rick Scott and Gov. Ron DeSantis say they are meeting with the FBI to discuss the hacking.