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Sen. Mark Warner: More state election systems were targeted by Russians

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee told USA TODAY on Tuesday that Russian attacks on election systems were broader and targeted more states than those detailed in an explosive intelligence report leaked to the website The Intercept.

"I don't believe they got into changing actual voting outcomes," Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said in an interview. "But the extent of the attacks is much broader than has been reported so far." He said he was pushing intelligence agencies to declassify the names of those states hit to help put electoral systems on notice before the midterm voting in 2018.

"None of these actions from the Russians stopped on Election Day," he warned.

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The National Security Agency report said Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. supplier of voting software and sent deceptive emails to more than 100 local election officials in the days leading up to the election last November — a sign that Moscow's hacking may have penetrated further into voting systems than previously known.

The Justice Department on Monday announced that Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old federal contractor with a top-secret security clearance, had been charged with leaking classified information to an online media outlet. On Monday, The Intercept published the NSA document detailing the Russian involvement. Court documents outlining the charges against Winner do not specifically cite the NSA report leaked by The Intercept.

Warner said: "Whoever's the leaker should be pursued to the full extent of the law."

Most of the states involved are now aware they were targeted, the senator said, though the number of states remain classified.

"Some folks say the states are victims, so they have to agree to release that information," he said. "I really want to press the case. This is not an attempt to embarrass any state. This is a case to make sure that the American public writ large realizes that if we don't get ahead of this, this same kind of intervention could take place in 2018 and definitely will take place in 2020."

In the interview with Capital Download, Warner also discussed two crucial Senate Intelligence Committee hearings this week, including testimony Thursday by ousted FBI director James Comey.