White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien declared on Sunday that Russian hackers who were recently reported to have launched attacks on state and local governments “can’t change votes” in the Nov. 3 elections
O’Brien’s comments on CBS’ “Face the Nation” come after federal officials said on Thursday the Russian government was behind a series of attacks “against a wide variety of U.S. targets” including “dozens” of state and local governments. But federal agencies also said they saw no indication that the hacking team had “intentionally disrupted any aviation, education, elections, or government operations.”
Asked whether hackers can change votes or make it harder to vote, O’Brien responded: “No, they can’t do either of those things. And we got ahold of them early on because we’ve got great cyber folks, and we put a stop to it, but there’s nothing they can do to change your vote or to stop you from voting.”
O’Brien also noted the difference between election interference on Election Day and trying to influence people’s votes in the election, mentioning the Iranian government’s involvement in recent emails threatening Americans with retribution if they don’t vote to reelect President Donald Trump.
“Your vote is secret. Every American should understand that their vote is secret. And that was an Iranian effort to hurt the president,” O’Brien said.
He said the Trump administration has taken a “very strong position” on election interference and that there will be “severe consequences to anyone who attempts to interfere with our elections on Election Day,” though he didn’t mention any specific consequences.
“We’ve told our foreign adversaries, ‘Don’t try to mess with the ballots.’ And it is very hard for them to do so,” he said.