Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that he has zero tolerance for Russian interference in the 2018 congressional midterm elections and will counter “continued” efforts from the Kremlin to impede or obstruct.
During a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Pompeo added that the Trump administration will take “appropriate countermeasures” to fight any potential efforts from the Russians to tamper with upcoming votes.
However, he did not provide specifics on State Department tactics or further detail the extent in which additional foreign actors have attempted to sway the process.
Eliot Engel, top Democrat on the committee, pushed back on Pompeo’s claim and said the White House “is giving Russia a pass” due to its handling of presidential election tampering.
President Donald Trump has pegged the upcoming elections as integral to maintaining GOP’s narrow majority in Congress. Senate Republicans hold onto a razor-thin 50-47 majority against the Democrats, with several of those seats up for bidding in the fall.
During his recent speeches, the president urged his base to get out to the polls in November.
“That is not really a majority. To get the things we want, we got to get the Republicans elected.” Trump told audience members of 2018’s annual NRA conference in Texas. “We can not get complacent, we have to win the midterms.”
While serving as director of the CIA, Pompeo often said that he anticipates Russia to attempt to meddle with U.S. systems ahead of the midterm elections.
“I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that, but I’m confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election [and] that we will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great,” he told the BBC in January.