Lankford: Russians tried to infiltrate Oklahoma election

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford speaks on Senate floor discussing U.S. election security. (Office of Senator James Lankford)

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford says the Russians not only tried to hack into the 2016 U.S. election, they tried to do the same in Oklahoma.

During a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday evening, Lankford says the FBI sent out a nationwide 'flash alert' in August of 2016 presenting threats from a "bad actor", but didn't give details due to the classified nature of the threat.

"It wasn’t until September 22, 2017, a year and little bit later, that DHS actually notified my state and our state election authorities that we hadn’t just been targeted by a “bad actor,” we had been targeted by the Russians. A year later," said Lankford. "Because no one had clearance and there was no one engaged."

Despite attempts by Russian actors, Senator Lankford says Russia was not able to get access to Oklahoma's elections.

"They basically came and checked to see if the door was locked and they found out in Oklahoma, the door was locked," said Lankford. "They didn’t penetrate into our system, though they tried. But it was a year after the elections before we were even notified that the Russians were trying to penetrate our system. A subtle flash warning is all that we received in the summer of 2016."

Senator Lankford says although results may not have been tainted, over 200,000 Oklahomans saw social media posts from Russians, "not knowing they were Russian posts at all."

Lankford was on the Senate floor to push his Secure Elections Act legislation. The bipartisan bill would streamline cybersecurity information-sharing between federal and state authorities. It also provides security clearances to state election officials and support for state election cybersecurity infrastructure.

The speech comes at a time when lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have chastised President Donald Trump, who in a press conference Monday appeared to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies on the matter of election meddling. Trump walked back his comments on Tuesday, but on Wednesday he appeared to deny that Russia was continuing to attack the U.S., a statement that goes against intelligence officials assessments.

"I have zero doubt the Russians tried to destabilize our nation in 2016 by attacking the core of our democracy," said Lankford Wednesday evening. "Anyone who believes they will not do it again has missed the basic information that is how day, after day, after day, in our intelligence briefings."

See Senator Lankford's full statements below:

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