Schiff To Trump: Confront Putin On Election Meddling

In this file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting on November 11, 2017. (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff says the level of detail in Friday's indictment of a dozen Russian intelligence officers in the hacking of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign and Democratic National Committee computers refutes any suggestion that the probe into election meddling is illegitimate.

The president as late as this week called special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election a "witch hunt."

That characterization sends a signal to the Russian president that Trump "has Putin's back," according to Schiff, who represents Burbank, parts of Pasadena, central Los Angeles and other communities in the 28th District. Schiff is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and a frequent critic of Trump.

The president is scheduled to meet with Putin in Finland on Monday when Trump has said he plans to ask the Russian president about his country's interference in the election.

'NO CONFIDENCE'

But Schiff told KPCC's Nick Roman on Friday that the answer is already known. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in attempts to influence the U.S. election.

"None of us can have any confidence whatsoever that he will confront Putin on this," Schiff said of Trump.

The indictment claims that states were targeted by Russian hackers researching the vulnerabilities of election websites and agencies.

Schiff said California was among an estimated 20 states targeted by the Russians.

"Now the degree to which they may have penetrated one state's voter registration or voter database may differ from another, but they were certainly probing the elections systems of many states around the country," he said.

THREATS ARE 'VERY REAL'

According to the indictment, Russian officers hacked the website of one unidentified state board of elections and stole the information of approximately 500,000 voters, including names, addresses and partial Social Security numbers.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla reiterated Friday that there is no evidence California's elections systems were breached in 2016. In September 2017, Padilla issued a statement saying the Department of Homeland Security had confirmed that the California Department of Technology statewide network had been subject to "scanning activity" by Russians, but Padilla said the state's elections infrastructure and websites were not affected.

Nonetheless, Padilla said the latest indictment "is a stark reminder that cyber threats to our elections are very real — and they won't be going away."

While there are officials working in Homeland Security and other U.S. agencies to deter Russian interference in future elections, Schiff argued there is no leadership from Trump to prevent the activity in a coordinated way.

"And that leaves us more vulnerable than we should be," Schiff said.

The White House emphasized Friday that the indictment does not allege anyone on the Trump campaign was knowingly involved in the hacking by Russians or that the results of the 2016 president election were in any way affected.


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