WASHINGTON, U.S. - In a shocking report, the Department of Homeland Security has revealed that Russians had penetrated voter registration rolls of multiple states during the 2016 presidential election.
The revelation was made by the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security in an interview with NBC News.
Jeanette Manfra said in the interview that of the 21 states targeted by Russians in the election, several were successfully penetrated.
While Manfra pointed to the 21 states targeted, U.S. officials have said there is no evidence that any states' voter registration rolls were tampered with or altered with by the foreign intrusions.
The report pointed out that Manfra’s role is to protect American elections from hacking, yet, the DHS cybersecurity head did not specify which states had been successfully penetrated, claiming she could not publicly disclose classified information.
She said, "We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”
The report follows previous similar report in the Washington Post that stated that computer systems in Illinois and Arizona were both successfully penetrated.
Meanwhile, the revelations made by Manfra came alongside warnings issued by other U.S. officials, who said that Russian hackers may attempt to influence the 2018 midterm elections.
In a statement issued earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson alleged that Russia is already trying to interfere in the upcoming congressional elections.
Tillerson said, "If it's their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that.”
The accusations made by Manfra also come less than a month after CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in late January that he has "every expectation" that Russia will try to target the midterms.
In an interview with BBC, Pompeo had stated, "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."
According to reports, in September last year, the Homeland Security Department had informed election officials in the 21 targeted states that Russian government hackers had tried to penetrate their voting machines in 2016.
These states reportedly including Arizona, Illinois, Alabama, California, Colorado, Wisconsin and Florida, which have also confirmed they were targeted.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, former U.S. President George W Bush broke party lines and said in an explosive interview that there is “clear evidence” Russia interfered with the U.S. election, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s denials.
Bush said, “There’s pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled” in the 2016 presidential election, forcefully rebutting fellow Republican Donald Trump’s denials Moscow tried to affect the vote.”
Bush did not mention Trump by name, but appeared to be pushing back on the President’s attempts to have warmer relations with Russia, as well as his comments on immigration.
In a talk in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, Bush said, “There’s pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled. Whether they affected the outcome is another question.”
He further added that “it’s problematic that a foreign nation is involved in our election system. Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results.”
Commenting on the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bush said, calling Putin “zero-sum,” that, “He’s got a chip on his shoulder. The reason he does is because of the demise of the Soviet Union troubles him. Therefore, much of his moves (are) to regain Soviet hegemony.”
Bush further stressed the need to back NATO and other alliances the U.S. has with the world.