Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf responded Wednesday to an ABC News report that claimed that the department withheld information that Russia was seeking to damage Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by attacking his mental health.
“Well, some of the accusations in the ABC story that you reference is completely inaccurate,” Wolf told Fox News. “Again, I would say, what we do at the department every day regarding election security, and our Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has been hard at work on this for the last four years.”
“We saw, two years ago, a very safe and secure election. We’re continuing to work very hard at this leading up to November. And we have called out malign actors, such as Russia, China, and Iran,” Wolf added. “The report that you reference was, at the end of the day, a very poorly written report. I had questions about it. When I talked to career officials in I&A, in the office that produced the report, they also had questions about it.”
Wolf added that the report was being rewritten and noted that the department has had issues with people leaking to the media for a while.
“It’s worth noting that numerous Democrats, progressives, and left-wing publications have also questioned Biden’s mental fitness for office,” The Daily Wire reported. “Biden, who said a couple of months ago that he was ‘constantly tested’ for cognitive decline, walked those claims back last week, denying that he had been tested for cognitive decline and saying, ‘Why the hell would I take a test?’”
DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Wanted to ask you about another topic. ABC News is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security withheld an intel bulletin in July that had an assessment that Russia was going to try to attack Joe Biden for being mentally weak, for maybe having dementia.
And now you have some in Congress saying that this was inappropriate, that you should have released this information, that you were trying to hide it. How do you respond to that?
CHAD WOLF, ACTING U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, some of the accusations in the ABC story that you reference is completely inaccurate.
Again, I would say, what we do at the department every day regarding election security, and our Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has been hard at work on this for the last four years.
We saw, two years ago, a very safe and secure election. We’re continuing to work very hard at this leading up to November. And we have called out malign actors, such as Russia, China, and Iran.
The report that you reference was, at the end of the day, a very poorly written report. I had questions about it. When I talked to career officials in I&A, in the office that produced the report, they also had questions about it.
They’re hard at work on rewriting that report, putting it in some better context. And I hope to see that report out soon.
But, again, I’m going to continue to do my job, make sure that the information coming out of the department is — is first-rate. Again, when we talk about reports out of DHS, this is the same office, unfortunately, that I had concerns about at the beginning of August, where they put out notices regarding members of the press and leaking information.
And so this is a systemic issue that we’re trying to resolve here inside the department. And we will continue to do that. But we will continue also to talk about election security, and calling out a number of these nation state actors.
PERINO: What is your level of confidence right now about how we will be able to keep our elections secure, with it only being about 64 days away?
Again, from a DHS perspective, we’re focused on any cyber-threats regarding election infrastructure. And I can say that we’re working with all 50 secretaries of state, a number of other jurisdictions, as well as the major election technology companies.
So I think we have a pretty good handle on it. We have not seen any specific intelligence or threats targeting election infrastructure, but we do know the capability is there, and we will certainly be on top of it.
PERINO: But not only the capability, but do you think that the will is there? Do you see an uptick in activity?
Again, we will see. And the intelligence assessment that came out in August, certainly, continues to identify China, Russia and Iran as not only having the capabilities, but certainly the desire to sow that discourse and try to have that influence in our elections.
But, again, we have got a number of folks within the federal government, not only the DHS, but the I.C. community, Department of Justice and others, that are hard at work on this issue, and, again, from a DHS perspective, making sure that, when you go to the polls, that election infrastructure is safe and secure, primarily from any cyber-threats.
PERINO: All right, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, thank you for joining us today.
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