Harry Reid Asks FBI to Investigate Evidence of Russia Tampering in U.S. Voting Results


The Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, asked the F.B.I. on Monday to investigate evidence suggesting that Russia may try to manipulate voting results in November.

In a letter to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey Jr., Mr. Reid wrote that the threat of Russian interference “is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results.” Recent classified briefings from senior intelligence officials, Mr. Reid said in an interview, have left him fearful that President Vladimir V. Putin’s “goal is tampering with this election.”

News organizations reported Monday that the F.B.I. warned state election officials several weeks ago that foreign hackers — the bureau did not say what country they were from — had exported voter registration data from computer systems in at least one state, and had pierced the systems of a second one.

In the notice, delivered on a confidential basis to state election officials, the F.B.I. did not name the two states. But Yahoo News, which first reported the F.B.I. warning, said the states were Arizona and Illinois, and a government official familiar with the notice confirmed that it was those two states.

The F.B.I. said the voter information had been “exfiltrated,” which means that it was shipped out of the state systems to another computer. But it does not mean that the data itself was tampered with.

It is unclear whether the hackers intended to affect the election or pursued the data for other purposes, like gaining personal identifying information about voters. The F.B.I. warning referred to “targeting activity” against state boards of elections, but did not discuss the intent of the hackers.

“That incident was only a small part of what disturbed me,” Mr. Reid said on Monday.

In his letter to the F.B.I., he offered no specifics about how Russian hackers could manipulate election data, an effort made harder by the varying vote-tallying procedures in each state.

But the prospect of election tampering has been discussed since the revelation that two Russian intelligence agencies, the F.S.B. and the G.R.U., were believed to be responsible for the hacking of the networks of the Democratic National Committee.

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SOURCE: NY Times, David E. Sanger