Dec 16, 2020
Fired Election Official Chris Krebs Senate Testimony on 2020 Election Security Transcript
Christopher Krebs, the former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, testified before the Senate on December 16. He was questioned on the security of the 2020 election. Read the transcript of the full hearing below.
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Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:43)
Good morning. This hearing is called to order. I want first welcome and thank the witnesses for your time and your testimony. Let me start the hearing by saying this hearing should not be controversial. It really shouldn’t be. This is something I think we all should want to restore the confidence in our election system.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (04:11)
A week ago, when I gave notice to this hearing, there were more standing issues and court cases than there are today. But even though courts have handed down decisions and the Electoral College has awarded Joe Biden 306 electoral votes, a large percentage of the American public does not believe the November election results are legitimate. This is not a sustainable state of affairs in our democratic republic.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (04:36)
There are many reasons for this high level of skepticism. It starts with today’s climate of hyper-partisanship, which was only exacerbated by the persistent efforts to delegitimize the results of the 2016 election. The corrupt investigation and media coverage of the Russian collusion hoax reduced faith in our institutions and the ongoing suppression and censorship of conservative perspective, by bias media and social media, adds fuel to the flames.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (05:05)
Senator Grassley’s and my investigation and report on the conflicts of interest and foreign financial entanglements of the Biden family is just one example of how media suppression can and does affect the outcome of an election. It is both amazing and galling that all of a sudden post-election, this has become a news story and a scandal worthy of investigation. With less than a month left in my chairmanship of this committee, the examination of irregularities in the 2020 election will obviously be my last investigation and last hearing as chairman. But oversight into election security should continue into the next Congress because we must restore confidence in the integrity of our voting system.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (05:53)
As I said at the start, this effort should be bipartisan. In my statement announcing this hearing, I stated it’s goal was to, ” Resolve suspicions with full transparency and public awareness.” What’s wrong with that? That is what good oversight can accomplish.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (06:12)
Unfortunately, Senator Schumer and Peter’s ignored my statement and instead chose to politically attack me and this hearing. As I commented in last Thursday’s hearing on early treatment of COVID, closed mindedness is a root cause of many problems we face.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (06:29)
Just a quick aside about that hearing, about seven days ago. It was attacked, unfortunately boycotted by Democrat members of this committee, except for a rather politically-charged opening statement by Senator Peters. Two of those witnesses, two of those doctors who have the courage to treat COVID patients told me, I think one of them told the committee, they’re Democrats, and they were very disappointed by that boycotting by Democrats, that closed mindedness, that politically-charged opening statement. But to prove the worthiness and the value of that hearing, Dr. Kory, one of those Democrats, a person who has shown immense courage in treating successfully COVID patients, his 10 minute opening statement has received more than 4.4 million views in just the last seven or eight days. Obviously, Americans need that information. They have the right to know about early treatment and they have the right to try early treatment.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (07:30)
So my last pitch, before I returned to this hearing, if you or somebody gets COVID seek a doctor, again, you need doctor participation in this, but find a doctor who will at least consider and talk to you about early treatment. On with this hearing.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (07:48)
In preparation for this hearing, I asked my staff to find out as much as they could about basic election mechanics controls and data flow. Much of the suspicion comes from a lack of understanding how everything works and how much variety there is in the way each precinct, county and state conducts their elections.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (08:06)
Even though decentralization makes it more difficult to understand the full process, it also dramatically enhances the security of our national elections. In addition to the witnesses testifying today, we spoke to state and local officials, as well as suppliers of election machinery, equipment and data.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (08:25)
I believe the alleged irregularities can be organized into three basic categories. Number one, lax enforcement or violations of election laws and controls. Two, allegations of fraudulent votes and ballot stuffing, and three, corruption of voting machines and software that might be programmed to add or switch votes. In the time we had, it was impossible to fully identify and examine every allegation, but many of these irregularities raise legitimate concerns and they do need to be taken seriously.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (08:57)
So here’s a brief summary of what we did learn, and a lot of this should provide the American public comfort in the integrity of our election system. First, multiple controls do exist to help ensure election integrity. Voter registration rules, and election logs for both in-person and absentee vote balloting are used to verify eligible voters and help prevent fraudulent voting, but it’s not a perfect system as we will hear in testimony today.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (09:25)
We have increased the percentage of votes using paper ballots from 82% in 2016 to 95% in 2020. A lot of that had due to the efforts of CISA and Chris Krebs, recognizing that was a vulnerability in our system, not having that audit trail. So this is a significant improvement in providing a backup audit trail, but only if full or statistically valid recounts occur.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (09:51)
Optical scanners, ballot marking machines, and tabulators should not be connected to the internet during voting, but we found some do have the capability of being connected and there are allegations that some were. Once voting ends, those machines print out a paper report and also transmit voting data in digital form in two separate data streams, from precinct to the county level, and then the state level.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (10:17)
The first data stream, this is the official stream, is sent to the official state election management systems and the second unofficial stream is to the unofficial media reporting system, through companies like Edison Research and the Associated Press. There is no uniform method of transmission. It is not fully automated and thousands of human beings are involved in the process so human error does occur, but that is what paper backups and post-election canvasing is designed to catch.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (10:48)
Today, we will hear testimony on how election laws in some cases were not enforced and how fraudulent voting did occur as it always does. The question that follows is whether the level of fraud would alter the outcome of the election. This year, in dozens of court cases, through the certification process in each state and by the Electoral College vote, the conclusion has collectively been reached that it would not. However, lax enforcement denying effective bipartisan observation of the complete election process and failure to be fully transparent or conduct reasonable audits has led to heightened suspicion.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (11:32)
The most difficult allegations to assess involve vulnerabilities in voting machines and the software used. In order to effectively determine the extent to which voting machines were subject to nefarious intrusion or other vulnerabilities, computer science experts must be given the opportunity to examine these allegations. This is a complex issue that has been under congressional for years.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (11:55)
Since 2018, I’m aware of three oversight letters requesting information from the main suppliers of voting machines. This oversight is focused on Election Systems & Software, LLC, Dominion Voting Systems, Inc, and Hart InterCivic Inc. Today we have a witness from the election assistance commission, which certifies voting machines to describe what has been done and what more can be done to address any vulnerabilities.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (12:22)
On March 7th, 2018, it was reported that Senators Klobuchar and Shaheen asked quote, major vendors of US voting equipment, “Whether they had allowed Russian entities to scrutinize their software,” saying the practice could allow Moscow to hack into American election industry structure.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (12:41)
Then last year, on March 26, 2019, Senators Klobuchar, Warner, Reed, and Ranking Member Peters wrote, “The integrity of our elections remain under serious threat. Our nation’s intelligence agencies continue to raise the alarm that foreign adversaries are actively trying to undermine our system and democracy and will target the 2020 elections as they did in 2016 and 2018 elections. A combination of older legacy machines and newer systems vulnerabilities in each present a problem for the security of our democracy and they must be addressed.”
Chairman Ron Johnson: (13:21)
Then on December 6, 2019, Senators Warren, Klobuchar, Wyden and Congressman Pocan wrote, “We are particularly concerned that secretive and trouble-plagued companies owned by private equity firms and responsible for manufacturing and maintaining voting machines and other election ministration equipment, quote, have long skimped on security in favor of convenience, leading voting systems across the country prone to security problems.”
Chairman Ron Johnson: (13:49)
“Moreover,” again, this is a quote from that letter, “Moreover, when state and local officials work on replacing antiquated machines, many continued to run on old software that will soon be outdated and more vulnerable to hackers.” The letter continues, “In 2018 alone, voters in South Carolina were reporting machines that switched their votes after they’d inputted them. Scanners were rejecting paper ballots in Missouri and busted machines were causing long lines in Indiana.”
Chairman Ron Johnson: (14:16)
In addition, these senators write, “Researchers recently uncovered previously undisclosed vulnerabilities in nearly three dozen back-end election systems in 10 States.” Just this year after the democratic candidate’s electronic tally showed he received an improbable 146 votes out of 55,000 cast in a Pennsylvania state judicial election in 2019, the county’s Republican chairwoman said, “Nothing went right on election day. Everything went wrong. That’s a problem. These problems threatened the integrity of our election.”
Chairman Ron Johnson: (14:50)
Now, again, those were three letters from Democrat members of Congress. Now, maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall the media or anyone else accusing these eight congressional Democrats of indulging in, “Quackery and conspiracy theories,” or their letters of being a, “Ridiculous charade,” as Senator Schumer did when you used those exact same words attacking me and this hearing on the Senate floor.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (15:22)
The fact that our last two presidential elections have not been accepted as legitimate by large percentages of the American public is a serious problem that threatens our Republic, and I do not say that lightly. This hearing is part of what should be ongoing congressional oversight that is meant to transparently address that serious problem.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (15:46)
So before I turn it over Senator Peters, I do want to remark, this is my last hearing as chairman. I want to express the fact that I think it has been an honor and privilege to serve. I think our track record, even though a couple asked last hearing, some of these investigations have grown to be a little rancorous. I regret that, but I think we really have an excellent track record of achievement, over a hundred bills passed and signed to law in this committee. 200 others passed by the committee, maybe not signed into law, but they can act as a foundation for future legislation.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (16:20)
So again, I just want to thank everybody for working together. Staff, it’s really been an honor and privilege. Looking ahead, I want to acknowledge that Senator Carper had a very kind phone call to me just an hour ago. We’ll probably be working in some capacity, as chairman and ranking member in the committee on the subcommittee investigations, and I look forward to trying to find those areas of agreement of things we can look into together to give the American people the information they need to know as it relates to government and other issues. So Senator Carper, thanks for calling it. With that I’ll turn it over to Senator Peters.
Senator Peters: (16:58)
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thanks to our witnesses for being here today. Mr. Chairman, if we have learned anything over the past few years, it’s that we cannot take our democracy for granted. Our institutions and our democratic norms have been under assault, and when elected leaders fail to stand up to protect them, we just see how quickly things can erode.
Senator Peters: (17:26)
For generations, Americans have been a shining example for budding democracies around the world. We have shown the world that strong governments and free societies can thrive when political power is entrusted to the people. We have demonstrated that the will of people is above any one individual and when voters choose their new leaders, power can be transferred peacefully.
Senator Peters: (17:52)
The president and many of his supporters are unfortunately continuing their efforts to undermine the will of the people, disenfranchise voters, and sew the seeds of mistrust and discontent to further their partisan desire for power, whether intended or not, this hearing gives a platform to conspiracy theories and lies and it’s a destructive exercise that has no place in the United States Senate.
Senator Peters: (18:20)
Joe Biden won the election more than five weeks ago with 306 electoral votes and received the most popular votes for a presidential candidate in American history. All 50 States and the District of Columbia have certified those results. The Electoral College met Monday and all affirmed that Joe Biden will be the president on January 20th, 2021.
Senator Peters: (18:48)
It’s a result that the majority of the American people recognize along with the leaders of more than 150 countries around the world. Yet, even after all of that, significant numbers of Republican elected officials have been slow to publicly acknowledge that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. I appreciate that yesterday, several of my Republican colleagues made their first public comments acknowledging this fact, and I appreciate that even the chairman’s rhetoric around this election has evolved over the last 24 hours.
Senator Peters: (19:31)
But, let me be clear, deciding to move forward with this hearing is still dangerous. Elected leaders who are chosen by the voters to help uphold our institutions and democratic values spent weeks, either turning a blind eye or parroting provocative rhetoric and false claims about this election. By not speaking out earlier, even though they knew it was wrong, but there was no evidence to support these claims and that this inflammatory rhetoric is harmful to our democracy, many elected officials gave the president and his supporters license to spread damaging lies about the election.
Senator Peters: (20:14)
We have known for weeks that there was no widespread voter fraud. A fact that President Trump’s own Department of Justice has confirmed. There was no election interference and the election wasn’t rigged. In fact, independent election security officials and the Department of Homeland Security have called this election, “The most secure in American history.” We’re going to hear directly from the former director of CISA, who will testify today about that fact.
Senator Peters: (20:46)
In the face of intimidation from the president and his supporters, including threats of violence and even death, election officials in states across the country certified their results as accurate, more than 50 … 50 post-election lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign have been dismissed or withdrawn, including by the United States Supreme Court because there is simply no evidence to support these claims in a court of law.
Senator Peters: (21:16)
And despite the title of today’s hearing, there were no widespread election irregularities that affected the final outcome. These claims are false and giving them more oxygen is a grave threat to the future of our democracy. Now I understand the chairman’s desire to ensure our elections run smoothly. I agree that we need to restore faith and trust in our election process, but I’m concerned that today’s hearing will do more harm than good by confusing a few anecdotes about human error with the insidious claims the president has aired.
Senator Peters: (21:53)
Mistakes do happen in elections, but there is a difference between a clerk making an error that gets caught and corrected during routine audits and calling the entire election fraudulent or stolen when there is no evidence, just because you do not like the outcome. Amplifying these obviously false narratives about fraud or irregularities corrodes public trust, it threatens national security and it weakens our democracy and our standing around the world.
Senator Peters: (22:25)
Every time the president or his followers make these false claims, they destabilize our relationships with our allies and allow authoritarian adversaries to undercut American democratic leadership around the globe.
Senator Peters: (22:40)
Democracy and a free society are not guaranteed. We have seen democracies around the world crumble because of similar words and actions. When executives abuse their power, when political leaders work to stifle the free press, and when they de-legitimized the principle of one person one vote, it puts our country on a dangerous path towards authoritarianism.
Senator Peters: (23:06)
I have faith that our democracy is strong and that it can withstand these attacks, but we need all of our leaders to speak up and condemn this harmful rhetoric. Preserving our democracy takes hard work and I’m deeply troubled that we’re at the edge of a crisis point. Now is the time for American patriots who love this country to say, ” Enough is enough.” Now is the time for patriots to put our nation’s founding ideals first during a time when American democracy needs the strongest defense that we can give.
Senator Peters: (23:45)
Mr. Chairman, to date, the Trump campaign has filed about 60 legal challenges to the election in eight States across this country, I ask that this document highlighting those cases and their failed attempts be entered into the record without objection.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (24:03)
Senator Peters: (24:04)
I’d also like to include in the record, a non-exhaustive list of incidents of violence aimed at election officials, as well as the statement from our nation’s top law enforcement associations condemning the threats of violence, harassment, and intimidation leveled at election officials across the country since election day. I moved without objection?
Chairman Ron Johnson: (24:27)
Senator Peters: (24:28)
I also ask that op- eds from our nation’s foremost voices on election integrity, democratic institutions and national security, including Madeleine Albright, Michael Chertoff, Ben Ginsberg, and Steven Brill be entered into the record without objection.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (24:44)
Without objection because I’m not afraid of information, but go ahead.
Senator Peters: (24:47)
No, that’s great. Lastly, I would like to enter into the record a statement from Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz. Freedom House is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy across the world. Without objection, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (25:03)
Senator Peters: (25:04)
Thank you Mr. Chairman
Chairman Ron Johnson: (25:08)
Again, I don’t see anything dangerous about evaluating information about doing legitimate congressional oversight, nothing dangerous about that whatsoever. As I said in my last hearing, close-mindedness is a real problem for a lot of the issues we face today.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (25:26)
I should have entered in the record the Reuters article from March 7th, 2018, describing the letter from Senators Klobuchar and Shaheen. Also into the record, the March 27, 2019 press release and letter from Senators Klobuchar, Warner, Reed, and Peters, which, let me just read a segment from that letter again.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (25:50)
This is Senator Peters joining in writing this letter, “The integrity of our elections remain under serious threat. Our nation’s intelligence agencies continue to raise the alarm that foreign adversaries are actively trying to undermine our system and democracy and will target the 2020 elections as they did in 2016 and the 2018 elections. A combination of older legacy machines and newer systems, vulnerabilities in each present a problem for the security of our democracy and they must be addressed,” until, I guess right now, let’s move on, let’s not worry about this because if we look at this, it’s dangerous to our democracy. Okay. Also, the December 6, 2019 letters written by Senators, Warren, Klobuchar, Wyden and Congressman Pocan to those same equipment manufacturers. I would also like to enter the responses from Dominion and Hart to the March 27th letter, but the ranking member’s staff had an objection. Do you object to that? The responses? Okay. So we’ll enter those in the record.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (26:57)
Finally, there’s a really interesting article recently written by Matt Taibbi, who again, I don’t know his political affiliation, he seems to be a pretty straight up reporter, the things I read of him, but if I were to guess, and no offense to Mr. Taibbi, I think he might be a little bit left of center, but the title is, “The YouTube Ban Is Un-American, Wrong, and Will Backfire. Silicon Valley couldn’t have designed a better way to further radicalize Trump voters.”
Chairman Ron Johnson: (27:26)
The reason I want to enter this article in the record, I really hope people read it because it really speaks to an awful lot that I covered in my opening statement of why we’re in this unsustainable state of affairs in this country, where, after 2016, four years of resistance, failing to recognize … refusing recognized the legitimacy of that election and here we are again. This is not sustainable.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (27:51)
But anyway, again, I want to welcome the witnesses. It is the tradition of this committee to swear in witnesses. So those via WebEx, if you raise your right hand, you here in person, please rise, raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?
Speaker 1: (28:14)
Judge Starr: (28:14)
Chairman Ron Johnson: (28:14)
Please be seated. So our first witness is coming via WebEx, Judge Kenneth Starr. Judge Starr served as a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals from 1983 to 1989. Mr. Starr has argued 36 cases before the Supreme court, including 25 cases during his service as Solicitor General of the United States from 1989 to 1993. From 1994 to 1999, he was appointed to serve as independent counsel for five investigations. Mr. Starr has had a distinguished career in academia and continues to write articles and serve as a guest commentator on a variety of media programs, Judge Starr.
Judge Starr: (28:56)
Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Ranking Member Peters and members of the committee, it’s an honor to be with you, even remotely. Over a century ago, the Supreme Court of the United States wrote this, “The right to vote is a fundamental political right preservative of all rights.” And over our 231 years as a constitutional democracy, the story of our American experiment is in no small part a story of expansion and inclusion. That policy has been undergirded by a desire to achieve human dignity and equality of all persons.
Judge Starr: (29:42)
In the wake of the civil war, very briefly, our constitutional history in terms of amendments governing voting, the 15th Amendment served as the capstone of the three post civil war amendments, which taken together abolished slavery, guaranteed due process and equal protection to all persons, and then expanding the right to participate to all persons.
Judge Starr: (30:09)
With the franchise expanding that came 100 years ago, the inclusion of women in 1920 as a federal constitutional right, the 19th Amendment. The elimination of financial impediments to vote, the 24th Amendment in 1964. Finally, in the wake of the Vietnam war, the expansion of the vote in federal elections to include 18 year olds, the 26th Amendment in 1971. Of course, along the way, Congress acted to foster the values of the 15th Amendment through the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 with its extensions over time.
Judge Starr: (30:55)
Now, underlying this story of ever expanding voting rights was an assumption that is one of integrity in the process, recall the scene and a wonderful movie Selma as the would be voter portrayed by Oprah Winfrey was unconscionably stymied in her effort simply to register to vote. Dishonesty caused disenfranchisement and enormous moral outrage.
Judge Starr: (31:28)
The flip side of racially-motivated disenfranchisement is the bedrock concept of treat everyone fairly and be honest in the process. This bears repeating, honesty in the electoral process is fundamental to the social bonds that unite us as a free people, echoing the chairman’s opening statement, and not surprisingly, the Supreme Court of the United States has severely warned about the dangers and the corrosive effects of dishonesty.
Judge Starr: (32:03)
Here’s what …
Judge Starr: (32:03)
To the facts of dishonesty. Here’s what a unanimous Supreme Court wrote in 2006. “Confidence in the integrity of our electoral processes is essential to the functioning of our participatory democracy.” And the court went on to say, “Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our form of government.” So, how do we achieve honesty and integrity in elections? It’s a challenge for the reason the chairman suggested: Decentralization. We have national elections, but we do not have a nationalized election with one set of rules. Indeed, both article one and article two point out the approach of our decentralized government, and that is we look to the States, but specifically state legislatures. Both article one, section four of the constitution and article two, section one, clause two. And so as in much of life, a guardrails of integrity are needed and time and again, courts have warned in the strongest terms that assuring honesty and integrity is a compellingly important governmental interest.
Judge Starr: (33:18)
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, now retired, who herself had been elected to state office in Arizona specifically warned that judicial intervention may be required in order to protect the integrity of the election process. And so as [inaudible 00:33:34] in this hearing, the presidential election 2020 with its unprecedented feature of the use of mail-in ballots has given rise to a number of questions that deserve to be answered.
Judge Starr: (33:47)
Instead of pointing to examples such as in Pennsylvania where there was a clear violation of the law, and then the statement of Justice Samuel Alito. Since my time has now expired, I want to close just by a reminder that in history, there was in fact in campaign, an illicit campaign, to deprive Abraham Lincoln of the presidency, and that was through the use of mail in ballots. So, I think in the spirit of the Carter Baker Commission, it’s wise for us, since of the warning that they had with respect to mail-in ballots, to pause and reflect on how we can in fact better assure that bedrock factor and feature of integrity in the election process. I thank the chairman and I thank the committee.
Speaker 2: (34:31)
Look forward to your questions.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (34:33)
Thank you, Judge Star. Our next witness is Commissioner Donald Palmer. Commissioner Palmer was confirmed to the Election Assistance Commission in January of 2019. Mr. Palmer is the former Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections and served as Virginia’s chief election official from 2011 to 2014. He also served as an intelligence officer and a judge advocate general. Commissioner Palmer.
Donald Palmer: (35:01)
Good morning Chairman Johnson and members of the committee and the ranking member. I’m thankful for the opportunity to testify before you this morning on the 2020 general election. In the efforts of the Election Assistance Commission to secure the nation’s voting systems, election officials, the commissioners, and the staff of the EAC have a duty to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the voting systems used throughout the nation. Our mission is to support the chief election officials, the directors of elections and administrators in all localities across the country. As the only federal agency completely dedicated to election administration, the EAC is charged with facilitating secure, lawful, and assessable elections. Under the Help America Vote Act, the EAC has focused on assisting state and local election officials. We are a bipartisan agency that recognizes the authority of States to conduct federal elections and that is a cornerstone of our representative democracy.
Donald Palmer: (35:57)
The 2020 general election has underscored the vital importance of comprehensive oversight of verdict technology and the companies who manufacture these systems. That oversight is an overlapping process of voluntary federal standards, state certification or approval, and local, logic, and accuracy testing prior to each election. We work to bolster confidence in democracy by adopting voluntary voting system guidelines periodically. We test voting systems, we accredit test laboratories, and serve as a national touring house of information on election administration.
Donald Palmer: (36:34)
Let me be clear, the EAC has confidence in the voting systems we certify and in the state and local election administrators who ran the election. First and foremost, that’s due to the process the voting system manufacturers must undergo to receive federal certification. Before voting machines and election management systems are used in elections, the systems undergo rigorous hardware and software testing by laboratories accredited by the EAC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST.
Donald Palmer: (37:03)
There are currently two accredited voting system laboratories, Pro V&V and SLI. Currently, the EAC’s quality monitoring program includes auditing voting system test laboratories and manufacturing facilities, conducting field reviews of the EAC certified voting systems, and gathering information on voting system anomalies on EAC certified voting systems.
Donald Palmer: (37:27)
I strongly support additional auditing, additional field reviews, and resolutions of any anomalies discovered. To apply for EAC certification of a voting system, a company must first apply to register with the agency as a registered manufacturer. Registration requires manufacturers to provide details on their ownership structure, names of officers and members of the board of directors, and in the individual organization with a controlling interest in the company.
Donald Palmer: (37:55)
Additionally, a list of all manufacturing or assembly facilities used by the manufacturer and the name and contact information of the person at each facility responsible for quality management must be provided. There are currently eight active manufacturers registered with the EAC’s testing program.
Donald Palmer: (38:13)
Please note it is not a requirement to be an EAC registered manufacturer to develop and sell voting systems to jurisdictions of the United States. It’s a voluntary program. Joining the program requires the manufacturers voluntarily agree to the programs requirements as outlined in the program manual. Requirements include complying with all EAC inquiries and investigations into the uses and status of fielded EAC certified systems.
Donald Palmer: (38:40)
Under our quality monitoring program, these investigations may arise due to technical failures experienced in the field, by election administrators, misrepresentations made in regard to a certification status of a voting system, and any deviations in quality in regard to those systems submitted to testing versus what is actually fielded.
Donald Palmer: (38:59)
The EAC staffed an election day war room to gather information on issues reported by the media and election officials. Five of the eight manufacturers participated in those calls. Additionally, the program is following up with election officials and voting system manufacturers to obtain any information on claims of irregularities reported in the media during the general election. This effort is ongoing.
Donald Palmer: (39:26)
Jurisdictions across the United States also performed a series of logic and [inaudible 00:39:30] prior to operating those voting machines in polling places. We support those efforts through technical assistance and best practices and our grant monies. Election officials conduct post-election audits to verify the completeness and accuracy of the tabulated votes. I’m looking to conclude with stating that we recognize the need to do more than ever to strengthen the confidence and the integrity of our elections.
Donald Palmer: (39:56)
All of us set forth an ambitious agenda for EAC, one rooted in protecting the foundation of our democracy. Despite the challenges in recent years, the EAC has faithfully fulfilled its obligation and even expanded support it provides to election administrators and to voters. We look forward to working with Congress in a bipartisan manner as we continue our efforts to help America vote. I’m happy to answer any questions following this testimony. Thank you.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (40:23)
Thank you, Commissioner Palmer. Our next witness is here in person, Mr. James Troupis. Mr. Troupis serves as the lead attorney for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin. From 2015 to 2016, Mr. Troupis served as the circuit court judge in Dane County, Wisconsin. He is currently a partner at the Troupis law office. Mr. Troupis.
James Troupis: (40:45)
I’m honored to be here, Senator. Thank you for the invitation. I’ve submitted written testimony, which I’d asked to be in the record and I’m going to provide additional remarks at this point.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (40:54)
By the way, without objection, everybody’s submitted testimony is automatically entered in the record. So, go ahead.
James Troupis: (40:59)
Thank you. Thank you. Absentee voting in Wisconsin is treated quite differently, I believe, than other parts of the country. Let me read for you what the legislature found. It’s in our statutes. It says that the legislature finds that the privilege of voting by absentee ballot must be carefully regulated to prevent the potential for fraud or abuse, to prevent overzealous solicitation of absent electors, who may prefer not to participate in an election, to prevent undue influence on an absent elector to vote for or against a candidate. As a consequence, our laws are strictly construed and even more so, let me read again from the law.
James Troupis: (41:35)
Results, which do not comply with those regulations, quote, “may not be included in the certified result of any election.” So, it’s very straight forward that the state of Wisconsin has taken a very different view of in-person voting with all the protections, and absentee voting that has been repeatedly, including in the Carter Commission report, thought to be a source of significant potential for fraud.
James Troupis: (41:58)
In Wisconsin, we just completed a recount. We had more of the 2,500 volunteers, or probably more than 1,000 volunteers for the Biden campaign as well. Uniquely, we are able to examine actual envelopes that contain the ballots that are submitted by absentee voters. This allowed us to identify by person, by address, by ward. It’s not conspiracy. The real names are in the record.
James Troupis: (42:28)
And here’s what we found. We found that there were incomplete and altered certificates. These are the certificates on the front of the envelopes that have to be exactly done correctly under our law. If not, those results may not be counted. How many of those? More than 3,000 of those identified by person were nonetheless counted, even though they are clearly invalid under the law.
James Troupis: (42:55)
A second category, initials of clerks are placed on all of those envelopes. Why? Because the clerk identifies it having been properly received and identification is provided. That’s the check in advance of the election. What did we find? More than 2,000 of those ballots in Dane and Milwaukee County had no initials at all. But nonetheless, they got counted.
James Troupis: (43:22)
We also have special laws in Wisconsin with regard to voting in advance. We do not allow advanced voting. We allow in-person and other voting as absentee. So, anything before election day is under our absentee rules. What did the city of Madison do? They created a system where people could arrive at a park, hand in their ballots in envelopes five weeks before the election.
James Troupis: (43:49)
They also created boxes. No controls at all. Just boxes on corners that you could throw the ballot in. No attempt at all. And our statutes explicitly say there are only two ways to submit an absentee ballot. In person or delivery to the clerk’s office. That’s it.
James Troupis: (44:09)
Nothing else is allowed. And yet have the city of Madison, we had 28,395 … I’m sorry, 17,271 ballots in this category that we identify. There are tens of thousands more because they co-mingled the ballots afterwards so we couldn’t identify each one that may have been properly cast.
James Troupis: (44:35)
Then we have an interesting category called indefinitely confined. These are people which the statute, I read from the statute: “By age, physical illness or infirmity, or are disabled indefinitely.” So, they don’t have to provide any identification. Among those claiming this status is one of the electors for Joe Biden, who said, “I can’t get to the polls.” We have poll workers who claimed it. We have people who went to protests, people who had weddings, people who had vacations, all claimed this status. “I can’t get to the polls.” So, they were able to vote without identification.
James Troupis: (45:13)
There were 28,395 people we explicitly identified. Finally, there are other categories in which as much as 170,000 other ballots were submitted without any application. In fact, they considered the certification envelope the application, though a separate application is required by law. 3 million people properly voted in the state of Wisconsin. More than 200,000 identified during this recount did not. But those votes got counted and our statute says they should not have been. That in our view is a taint on our election in Wisconsin. Thank you.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (45:57)
Thank you, Mr. Troupis. And I believe Joe Biden won our state by about 20,000 votes.
James Troupis: (46:02)
Chairman Ron Johnson: (46:03)
And you’re talking about over 200,000 that were outside of our law, that probably if the law would have been followed, probably shouldn’t have been counted.
James Troupis: (46:12)
Chairman Ron Johnson: (46:13)
Should not have been accepted. Shouldn’t have been put in the ballot pool. And of course, the remedy is not particularly pleasing, which is one of the reasons the decision went its way. I’ll come back to you.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (46:26)
Our next witnesses via WebEx. Representative Francis Ryan. Representative Ryan has served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 2016. Mr. Ryan is a certified public accountant and prior to his election, ran a practice that focused on corporate restructuring and management. Mr. Ryan is a retired Marine Reserve Colonel who served in the central command special operations officer in operation Enduring Freedom. Representative Ryan.
Francis Ryan: (47:01)
Thank you so much for the chance to be with you today. The mail in ballot system for the general election in 2020 in Pennsylvania was so fraught with inconsistencies and irregularities that the reliability of the mail in votes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is almost impossible to rely upon. The evidence of these violations of the Pennsylvania election laws, as enacted, the election security safeguards, and the process flaws include things such as actions by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which undermined the controls inherent in Act 77 of 2019. The controls, which were undermined included, on September 17th, 2020, the Supreme Court unilaterally extended the deadline for mail in ballots to be received to three days after the election. They mandated that the ballots mailed without a postmark would be presumed to be received, and allowed the use of drop boxes for collection votes. And then on October 23rd, 2020 upon a petition from the Secretary of the Commonwealth, ruled that mail-in ballots need not authenticate signature for the mail-in ballots. Thereby treating in-person and mail-in voters dissimilarly, and eliminating a critical safeguard against a potential election fraud.
Francis Ryan: (48:21)
And this is one of my main reasons for believing that it’s difficult to believe that the mail-in voting process can be relied upon. Then there were also actions and, candidly, inactions by the Secretary of State, which undermined the consistency and controls of the election process. On November 2nd, the night before the November 3rd election and prior to the prescribed time for pre-canvassing mail-in ballots, the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth encouraged certain counties to notify party and candidate representatives of mail-in voters whose ballots contained defects.
Francis Ryan: (48:55)
In certain counties, watchers were not allowed to meaningfully observe the pre-canvassing and canvassing activities relating to the absentee and the mail-in ballot process. Those are at what I would call the strategic level.
Francis Ryan: (49:09)
At the operational level, there were a significant number of issues that resulted from those issues. The Pennsylvania election system is the shore system. And some of the issues that took place actually called into question the consistency. For example, in the case of an over vote in case of Philadelphia County, on November 4th, 11:30, the Department State posted updated Maryland vote counts for Philadelphia County, showing 508,112 ballots, despite the fact that only 432,873 ballots were in fact issued to voters. This data was later corrected, but the question becomes who had the authorization to change and correct that information and who had access to the system? Any type of system control would ask for that.
Francis Ryan: (49:57)
Additionally, on a data file on December 4th, 2020, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s open data record site reported 3.1 million ballots sent out. In a prior discussion that was had the day before the election, it was indicated that there were 2.7 million that were sent out. And efforts to attempt to reconcile those numbers have not yet been successful, and still need to be resolved upon.
Francis Ryan: (50:21)
Recently, a newly available data voter set from data.pada.gov, which had been offline for weeks, indicated the latest update had been done on November 16, 2020. The download of November 16, 2020 shows 75,505 more ballots returned on 11/16 than the comparable download on November 15th.
Francis Ryan: (50:46)
So, that basically means an additional 75,505 ballots were added to the dataset, again, without any explanation, or without the ability to have a hearing to determine that, it becomes almost impossible to track in the system of internal controls.
Francis Ryan: (51:02)
Additionally, there were mail date irregularities that were identified in the 3.1 million ballots, relative to the dates that the ballots were finalized. Ballots mailed late and ballots mailed inconsistent within active legislation, that was 154,584 votes. For ballots. Vote date of birth irregularities, meaning voters over 100 years of age. 1,573 ballots. These apparent discrepancies can only be evaluated by reviewing the transaction laws and to determine the access, the authority for the entry, the verification of the data entered as well as the authentication. Anytime you have this type of system of internal controls, as a CPA, you would want to ensure that the system of internal controls is reasonably designed to deter wrongdoing.
Francis Ryan: (51:53)
Before and after the election of November 3rd, 2020, the efforts by the state government committee and other members of the Pennsylvania legislature to obtain oversight information and relevant data to confirm or deny claims of improprieties were stymied throughout. Even an effort to have a hearing on November 20, 2020 with Dominion Systems was canceled after Dominion Systems indicated they were concerned about litigation concerns.
Francis Ryan: (52:20)
Candidly, without knowing the answer to these questions and due to the magnitude of the potential discrepancies and [inaudible 00:52:26] to the elections, the results of the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania, would just be completely difficult if not impossible to determine with conclusiveness. And Mr. Chairman and ranking member, thank you so much for your time and I look forward to your questions.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (52:42)
Thank you, Representative Ryan.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (52:44)
Our next witness is Mr. Jesse Banal. Did I get that right?
Jesse Banal: (52:48)
Chairman Ron Johnson: (52:49)
Wow. Mr. Banal is an attorney for the Trump Campaign and is lead counsel for the campaign in Nevada. He is currently a partner at the law firm of Harvey and Banal. Mr. Banal.
Jesse Banal: (53:00)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, ranking member Peters, and members-
Chairman Ron Johnson: (53:05)
Mic. Use the microphone.
Jesse Banal: (53:06)
Ah, there we go. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, ranking member Peters, and members of the committee. This year, thousands upon thousands of Nevada voters had their voices canceled out by election fraud and invalid ballots. Here’s how it happened:
Jesse Banal: (53:21)
On August 3rd, 2020 after a rushed special session, Nevada legislators made drastic changes to the state’s election law by adopting a bill known as AB-4. The vulnerabilities of this statute were obvious. It provided for universal mail voting without sufficient safeguards to authenticate voters or ensure the fundamental requirement that only one ballot was sent to each legally qualified voter. This was aggravated by election official’s failure to clean known deficiencies in their voter rolls.
Jesse Banal: (53:55)
Because of AB-4, the number of mail ballots rocketed from about 70,000 in 2016 to over 690,000 this year. The election was inevitably riddled with fraud and our hotline never stopped ringing. While the media and Democrats accused us of making it all up, our team began chasing down every lead. Our evidence came both from data scientists and from brave whistleblowers. Here’s what we found.
Jesse Banal: (54:26)
Over 42,000, 42,000 people, voted more than once. Our experts were able to make this determination by reviewing the list of actual voters and comparing it to other voters with the same name, address, and date of birth. This method was also able to catch people using different variations of their first name, such as William and Bill, and individuals who were registered both under a married name and a maiden name.
Jesse Banal: (54:56)
At least 1,500 dead people are recorded as voting, as shown by comparing the list of mail voters with the social security death records. More than 19,000 people voted even though they didn’t live in Nevada. This does not include military voters or students. These voters were identified by comparing the list of voters with the US Postal Service’s national change of address database, among other sources. About 8,000 people voted from non-existent addresses. Here we cross-referenced voters with the coding accuracy support system, which allowed our experts to identify undeliverable addresses.
Jesse Banal: (55:42)
Over 15,000 votes were cast from commercial or vacant addresses. Our experts found these voters by analyzing official US Postal Service records that flag non-residential addresses and addresses vacant for more than 90 days. Incredibly, almost 4,000 non-citizens also voted as determined by comparing official DMV records of non-citizens to the list of actual voters in the 2020 election. The list goes on.
Jesse Banal: (56:16)
All in all, our experts identified 130,000 unique instances of voter fraud in Nevada. But the actual number is almost certainly higher. Our data scientists made these calculations not by estimations or statistical sampling, but by analyzing and comparing the list of actual voters with other lists, most of which are publicly available. To put it simply, they explain their methods so others could check their work. Our evidence has never been refuted, only ignored.
Jesse Banal: (56:49)
Two Clark County technical employees came forward completely independent of each other and explained that they discovered that the number of votes recorded by voting machines and stored on USB drives would change between the time the polls were closed at night and when they were reopened the next morning. In other words, votes were literally appearing and disappearing in the dead of night.
Jesse Banal: (57:15)
When we attempted to verify the integrity of these voting machines, we were allowed only a useless visual inspection of the outside of a USB drive. We were denied a forensic examination. Finally, our investigation also uncovered a campaign to illegally incentivize votes from marginalized populations, by requiring people to prove that they voted to receive raffle tickets for gift cards, televisions, and more.
Jesse Banal: (57:40)
Our determined team verified these irregularities without any of the tools of law enforcement, such as grand jury subpoenas or FBI agents. Instead, we had less than a month to use critical thinking and elbow grease to compile our evidence. We tried to obtain testimony or documents from Clark County officials, but they obstructed and stonewalled. When we filed suit, state officials and even courts delayed proceedings for days, but then offered us merely hours to brief and argue our cases.
Jesse Banal: (58:07)
In wrapping up Mr. Chairman, these findings are disturbing, alarming, and unacceptable in a free society. Our free and fair election tradition is a precious treasure that we are charged with protecting. Government by the consent of the governed is hard to win and easy to lose. Every single time a fraudulent or illegal vote is cast, the vote of an honest citizen is canceled out. Thank you.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (58:28)
Thank you, Mr. Banal. Our final witnesses also here in person, Mr. Christopher Krebs. He’s testified before this committee a number of times. Ms. Krebs served as the first director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA. Mr. Krebs also served in various roles with the department responsible for a range of cybersecurity, critical information, and national resilience issues. Prior to coming to DHS. He directed US cybersecurity policy for Microsoft. Mr. Krebs also served in the Bush Administration, advising DHS leadership on domestic and international risk management, as well as on public private partnership initiatives. Mr. Krebs, welcome back.
Christopher Krebs: (59:10)
Chairman Johnson, ranking member Peters, and members of the committee. As you know, I previously served as the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA. This was a job of a lifetime for me and a tremendous opportunity to serve the nation. When I sat before this committee in 2018 for my confirmation hearing, I could not have imagined how challenging and rewarding this job would be. That’s why it’s such an honor to appear before this committee today to testify about the extraordinary effort to the election security community to protect the 2020 election, a difficult task complicated by the ongoing global pandemic.
Christopher Krebs: (59:47)
But before I get into the substance of my remarks, I’m grateful to this committee and your leadership and your guidance over the last several years. First in shepherding what’s probably the best of the 100 bills that came through the committee, your efforts for the CISA authorizing statute, and your support of CISA’s efforts securing our elections.
Christopher Krebs: (01:00:09)
The nation should also thank that many federal, state, and local government election partners for the crucial work that’s been done that would give our citizens the confidence that their vote was counted as cast. We should also be taking a victory lap, celebrating a job well done. Consider where we started. When I rejoined the department of Homeland security in 2017, America had just endured a broad attack on democracy owing to the now well-documented interference campaign by the Russian Federation.
Christopher Krebs: (01:00:38)
Whatever their other motivations, this campaign sought to undermine confidence in our democratic institutions. Building on the universal agreement across the national security community that we cannot allow that to happen again, the CISA the team started with what needed to be improved based on the 2016 elections.
Christopher Krebs: (01:00:55)
First, we needed to improve our relationships with our state and local election officials, the individuals that actually run our elections.
Christopher Krebs: (01:01:02)
Second, we need to improve the security and resilience of election systems, particularly by phasing out voting machines without paper ballots.
Christopher Krebs: (01:01:10)
Third, federal agencies needed to move faster, work better together with each other and our state and local counterparts, and be more proactive in order to detect and prevent attacks on our democracy.
Christopher Krebs: (01:01:23)
Over the course of the last few years, we met these challenges. We improved CISA’s relationships with key partners through constant engagement in building an election security community of practice. This improvement is perhaps best represented by an election specific information sharing and analysis center, made up of all 50 states and thousands of jurisdictions. We improve the security of systems, scanning for vulnerabilities in election systems, providing intelligence briefings, and rapidly alerting to emerging threats, and deploying security sensors among other measures. And while we were principally focused on stopping actual hacks, we also had to contend with perception hacks, a form of disinformation which we countered with our rumor control website.
Christopher Krebs: (01:02:09)
We contributed to the cross agency effort to protect the 2020 election by surging coordination and collaboration with our partners across the national security space. In conclusion, because of these and other efforts, on November 12th, 2020 government and industry representatives from the election security community issued a joint statement reflecting a consensus perspective that the 2020 election was the most secure and US history.
Christopher Krebs: (01:02:35)
That statement reflects the confidence these officials gained based on years of work poured into improving the security and resilience of our elections. It was based on the strong operational relationships developed across the election security community. It was based on the tremendous partnership between CISA under the thoughtful guidance of this committee, the FBI, the election assistance commission, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community. It was based on an intimate understanding of how our elections work here in the US. It was based on the increase in paper ballots and audits across the nation and probably most importantly, it was based on the professionals, the heroes, that conduct elections in this country.
Christopher Krebs: (01:03:15)
While elections are sometimes messy, this was a secure election. Of that I have no doubt. Chairman Johnson, ranking member Peters, and members of this committee, thank you again for the opportunity to be here today, for your leadership, and for your support of CISA. I look forward to answering your questions and sharing more about our efforts to protect 2020.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:03:36)
Thank you, Mr. Krebs, for your past service. And by the way, I think under both the Obama administration and the Trump administration, while I’ve been chairman, I think DHS, now in the form of CISA, has done a very good job. As you talked about from 82 to 95% paper ballots, that’s improving our election integrity. So, I appreciate all your efforts and really all the men and women who work within DHS and CISA to do that. Mr. Troupis-
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:04:02)
And DHS and CySA to do that. Mr. Troupis, the decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court obviously, went against you, maybe not totally against you. I did read the rather scathing dissent from the Chief Judge. Can you describe exactly what, in summary fashion, what the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision was, based on your lawsuit, talking about all the areas that you have concern with?
James Troupis: (01:04:29)
Certainly, certainly. The Wisconsin Supreme Court was urged by the Biden Campaign, not to address any substantive issues, and that’s exactly what happened. The Biden Campaign argued to the Court that we’re not going to talk about any of the substantive things, we’re not even going to dispute the things I just brought up to you, but instead, you just shouldn’t hear them, because a state agency, the Wisconsin Election Commission, had authorized some of these activities. And candidly, as Chief Justice Roggensack and other dissenters held, one, the claims are substantive, they are substantial, and they needed to be addressed. Second, the Wisconsin Election Commission is a bureaucratic organization, explicitly that the same Court just four months ago said, has no meaning. It is not law. It is some advice given and that the [inaudible 01:05:32] control. We were disappointed, not so much in the decision, but in the fact that the decision itself is premised not on an analysis of the law, nor the analysis of the claims.
James Troupis: (01:05:43)
It’s an idea that we should not have a transparent system, that you’re not going to address these things. And that’s what they argued. It’s disappointing, especially in Wisconsin. And Senator Johnson, as you know, we have a long history in Wisconsin, unlike other states, I know unlike other states, of high transparency. Our recounts were conducted with utmost integrity by both Milwaukee and Dane County, with thousands of volunteers able to look at those items. And it’s really a sad day, frankly, when the opposition doesn’t argue we’re wrong, it argues we shouldn’t be heard. That’s a strange thing in a state that is so transparent as ours.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:06:26)
Just real quick, I know former Director Krebs talked about the men and women who run these elections, I had about at least a half hour phone conversation with the County Clerk of my town of Oshkosh voting precinct. He gave me all kinds of good information. I will tell you, if every County Clerk ran their elections like Jeannette Mertens does, we’d have a completely secure election. I think that’s true of the vast majority of elections in different precincts. Mr. Binnall, Mr. Troupis was talking about the law that he was arguing for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, was basically ignored. You had a similar statement that it wasn’t that the information that you just presented the committee, it was never rebutted, it was simply ignored. Can you talk about that?
Jesse Banal: (01:07:12)
Yes, Mr. Chairman. It was extremely disappointing that, rather than address our issues and the data that we presented head-on, they simply tried to use technicalities and limiting our evidence, limiting the amount of witnesses we could bring forward, saying that we couldn’t introduce any live testimony, but only 15 depositions, only use 15 depositions to show 130,000 instances of voter fraud. And then when it went to the Supreme Court of Nevada, they gave us two hours to brief the issues before immediately coming down with a decision. A record was over 8,000 pages long. We were never fully considered by those courts. They never took a good, hard list at hard evidence.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:08:01)
Mr. Krebs, I’ve obviously… You’ve testified here on this specific issue, the potential for foreign interference to have an impact on our elections. We’ve had private conversations. I’ve always categorized the ability for foreigners to interfere with the election, kind of three buckets. One is changing the vote tallies on the machine. Secondly, is hacking into voter registration files, which can cause all kinds of problems, but quite honestly, probably be detected on Election Day when there’s chaos. And then third, the one I think is the more serious problem, the one more difficult to detect is, basically the use of social media. You quoted the, which I can’t remember, is that CySA group that declared this the most secure election in our history?
Christopher Krebs: (01:08:52)
Yes, sir. That was the Joint Government Coordinating Council and Sector Coordinating Council statement.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:08:58)
Okay. One of the reasons I’ve always stated, based on our discussions and your testimony, that yeah, to my knowledge, it’s almost impossible to change the vote tally by hacking into these computers, based on the fact that these things are not connected and most of them don’t even have the capability of being connected to the internet. Based on all these allegations people are talking to, it sounds like some of these machines are showing the tabulators can and are connected to the internet. Can you just kind of explain to me what… Again, the whole voting machine, tabulation, internet connections, is just a huge, confusing mess. Can you speak to that?
Christopher Krebs: (01:09:40)
I think it’s important to step back and actually look at how votes are cast in the country, particularly with paper ballots, and that regardless of any internet connections, regardless of any foreign hacking, as long as you’ve got the paper receipt-
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:09:52)
Okay, but let me stop you there. I acknowledge that, yes. The paper backup is the control if it’s used. And that was going to be my next question. Set aside the control of the machine process, what is capable? Again, I kind of want to know on what basis, what aspects of this is the most secure, because when you listen to Mr. Troupis and Mr. Binnall, there was fraud in this election. I don’t have any doubt about that, there was fraud. We just don’t know the extent and we don’t know what the remedy would be when identified. Okay? Again, just speak to the computer aspect of this, the connection to the internet, the possibility if these machines are connected to the internet, or if the certification process… Because I think Mr. Palmer, in our discussions, you were talking a little bit about the fact that people attempted to change the controls, or the program in these computers, inside that certification process. But Mr. Krebs, just talk to the computer aspect of this, because again, it’s the most difficult and confusing aspect of these allegations.
Christopher Krebs: (01:10:56)
Yeah. There are a number of different systems and machines and computers involved in the entirety of the election process, from registration, through ballot design, through ballot printing, to actual voting, into the tabulation and post-election process. Throughout, you’re going to, particularly where a vote is cast on Election Day, those machines tend to, and should not be connected to the internet, certainly as a best practice.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:11:22)
But some have the capability don’t they?
Christopher Krebs: (01:11:24)
Some may have modems that are typically disabled, but in certain states, I believe in Wisconsin, some are temporarily activated to transmit some counts. But again, when you have paper and you can conduct a post-election [crosstalk 01:11:38].
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:11:38)
Again, if there-
Christopher Krebs: (01:11:39)
It’s an important security control that-
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:11:42)
Christopher Krebs: (01:11:43)
That technology in elections are used to facilitate access and increase accuracy of the process. But election officials are very careful that technology is not a single point of failure and that there are security controls before, during, and after the vote process.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:12:01)
Yeah, finish just answering the computer thing, we’ll come back, my time’s already expired, but we’ll come back to how many audits, the statistical sampling, that type of thing, to use those paper backups to the electronic voting. But finish this answer.
Christopher Krebs: (01:12:13)
Right. And as you move out from Election Day, there will be tabulators that may have internet connections to transmit the vote from the precinct, to the county level, to the state, again, security controls in place. And as long as you have the paper, can’t hack paper-
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:12:29)
Right, right, right.
Christopher Krebs: (01:12:30)
You can run that process [crosstalk 01:12:32].
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:12:31)
But those tabulators are connected on Election Day, because that’s how they transmit the data to the counties and also into the unofficial-
Christopher Krebs: (01:12:39)
In some cases, yes, sir.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:12:40)
Christopher Krebs: (01:12:40)
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:12:40)
Christopher Krebs: (01:12:41)
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:12:41)
Okay. I’ll follow up, Senator Peters.
Senator Peters: (01:12:46)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Questions for Mr. Krebs, but before I get to that, I just want to be clear. We’ve heard a number of statements made by other witnesses, we’ve heard those statements before, we’re continuing to hear those statements. And I would just say anybody who’s watching this hearing, look at the 60 court cases that have been brought before the judiciary in this country and how the arguments, sorry, I should say the statements, they’re not really arguments, they’re statements that have been made, have all been rejected by courts of law, including in Wisconsin, which was a Republican judge that rejected the arguments made by this administration. Just take a look at all this that we’re putting into the record. Mr. Krebs has the primary responsibility for working with state and local election officials and the private sector to secure our election infrastructure. It’s important for folks to realize where you sat and what your responsibilities, and in essence, you were tasked with coordinating with thousands of your partners across the country to ensure the integrity of the 2020 election.
Senator Peters: (01:13:47)
That was your job. And by all accounts, you were very successful at that. President Trump’s own Department of Justice concluded, and I’m going to quote the Department of Justice in the Trump Administration, ” We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.” The Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council, Executive Committee on the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council, comprising of federal, state, and local government officials, and numerous private sector organizations from all around the country, jointly call this, “The most secure in American history.” You also echoed this statement, and when you echoed that statement, you were fired by President Trump. He didn’t want to hear that, clearly. My question to you, do you stand by that statement? Have you seen anything in the week since November 4th, that would lead you to change your mind and have you identified any credible claim of widespread election irregularities?
Christopher Krebs: (01:14:49)
I stand by the claim. I said it in my opening statement, it’s in my written testimony. I’m yet to see anything from a security perspective, a security perspective, that would change my opinion on that. Fraud is a different matter, it’s a criminal matter, but again, bolstered by the Attorney General’s statement from last week or recently, again, nothing to change my opinion of that matter.
Senator Peters: (01:15:14)
So yet, despite this, we have more than five weeks now that the President has lost and numerous public officials have continued to pressure state and local elected officials to push what are demonstrably, a false narrative that election irregularities should somehow make him a winner in this race. You have willingly… In fact, these folks are willingly fanning the flames of discontent, and they’re in the process of weakening institutions that are essential for our representative democracy. My question to you is, what is the danger, in your estimation, to the democratic process, to challenge the legitimacy of an election and deny its results in the absence of any credible evidence?
Christopher Krebs: (01:15:58)
I think generally, from a timing perspective, particularly with the seating in the Electoral College and 306 electoral votes for President-elect Biden, I think we’re past the point where we need to be having conversations about the outcome of this election. I think that continued assaults on democracy and the outcome of this election, that only serves to undermine confidence in the process, is ultimately, as you both have said, ultimately corrosive to the institutions that support elections, and going forward, it will be that much harder. The trick about elections is that, you’re not so much trying to convince the winner they won, it’s the loser that they lost, and you need willing participants on both sides. And I think we’ve got to get back to that point, otherwise, we’re going to have a very difficult time going forward, maintaining confidence in this American experiment.
Senator Peters: (01:16:51)
During the 2016 Election, we saw foreign disinformation campaigns trying to sow doubt about the integrity of our election. We’ve seen that before and very clearly in 2016, and certainly all the intelligence community in this country back that up. In fact, CySA’s rumor control page was actually created within your agency, you mentioned it in your testimony, to address foreign disinformation having an impact on the election. Yet rather than creating fake news, it seems as if Russia has simply used state-controlled news outlets to basically push President Trump’s own statements and lies about a rigged election. Our adversaries don’t have to be technologically-advanced. Our adversaries don’t have to be creative to sow that doubt, all they have to do is air the words of American-elected officials on their state-owned news networks.
Senator Peters: (01:17:58)
As Clint Watts said, he’s a former FBI agent and a disinformation expert, put it, which I think is very strong, and he said, “Nothing that Russia or Iran or China could say, is anywhere near as wild as what the President is saying.” My question is, how are our foreign adversaries taking advantage of false claims of broad election fraud by the President and his supporters, or hearings, like we’re hearing here, we’re hearing these statements again that are broadly claiming systemic irregularities where none exist. How damaging is that?
Christopher Krebs: (01:18:39)
Talking about rumor control very briefly, I think that that was an innovation in government that we created on the fly to address some emerging threats. The point though that I’d like to highlight with rumor control, is that it was intended to identify and debunk issues as they were emerging. And we saw domestic disinformation campaigns of a cybersecurity nature, that were emerging in the days and weeks following the election. I’ll specifically talk about the Hammer and Scorecard claims, that there was a CIA super computer and program that were flipping votes throughout the country, and in Georgia specifically. But again, Chairman Johnson, I’m going to keep coming back to it, that’s why it’s so important to have a paper trail. That’s why it’s so important to have paper ballots, so even if there was foreign interference of a malicious algorithm nature, you can always go back to the receipts, you can check your math. And Georgia did that three times and the outcomes were consistent over and over and over again.
Senator Peters: (01:19:44)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:19:45)
Which by the way, is precisely why I brought that up in my opening statement, that should pride provide comfort, that we have that paper backup. But I just have to talk about Russian disinformation because the people pedaling it, are not on my side of the aisle. Senior democrat leaders, including ranking member Peters, were involved in a process of creating a false intelligence product that was mostly classified, they leaked to the media, that accused Senator Grassley, the President pro tem of the Senate, and myself, of accepting and disseminating Russian disinformation from Andrii Derkach, I’d never heard of the person till they brought it up. Senator Peters introduced that false information, Russian disinformation, into our investigation record. 50 people associated with the intelligence community after our Hunter Biden investigation and the revelations of the Hunter Biden computer said, “Oh, this is Russian disinformation.”
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:20:46)
Now we find out, no, it’s a real investigation by the Justice Department. So it’s just galling, and I just have to point out, that the purveyors of Russian disinformation, Hillary Clinton’s Campaign, the DNC, the Steele dossier, the ranking member Peters, accusing Senator Grassley and I of disseminating Russian disinformation, that’s where the disinformation is coming, that’s where the false information, the lies, the false allegations. I can’t sit by here and listen to this and say that this is not disinformation, this hearing today, this is getting information we have to take a look at to restore confidence in our election integrity. We’re not going to be able to just move on without bringing up these irregularities, examining them, and providing an explanation, and see where there really are problems so we can correct it moving forward. Senator Paul.
Senator Peters: (01:21:41)
Mr. Chairman, I got to respond to that. You’re saying I’m putting out information.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:21:45)
Senator Peters: (01:21:45)
Well, one, I had nothing to do with this report you’re talking about.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:21:48)
You lied repeatedly.
Senator Peters: (01:21:49)
I did not [inaudible 01:21:51].
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:21:50)
You lied repeatedly in the press that I was spreading Russian disinformation, and that was an outright lie. And I told you to stop lying and you continued to do it.
Senator Peters: (01:21:58)
Mr. Chairman, this is not about airing your grievances. I don’t know what rabbit hole you’re running down [crosstalk 01:22:03] rabbit holes.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:22:05)
Senator Peters: (01:22:05)
This is simply not what we’re dealing with.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:22:07)
Senator Peters: (01:22:08)
But Mr. Chairman, you can’t make these-
Senator Paul: (01:22:09)
Senator Peters: (01:22:10)
False allegations and then drop it at there. That is why this-
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:22:13)
Senator Peters: (01:22:14)
Needs to return back to a [crosstalk 00:18:17].
Senator Paul: (01:22:15)
Judge Starr, [inaudible 01:22:16].
Senator Peters: (01:22:18)
This is terrible what you’re doing to this committee and all the great work that you talked about [crosstalk 01:22:22].
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:22:21)
It is what you have done to this committee.
Senator Peters: (01:22:23)
It is not the case.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:22:24)
Falsely accusing the Chairman of spreading disinformation, nothing could have been further from the truth and you’re spouting it again, which is why I had to respond.
Senator Peters: (01:22:31)
Oh, come on.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:22:31)
Senator Peters: (01:22:32)
Mr. Chairman, this is outrageous, this is outrageous.
Senator Paul: (01:22:34)
Judge Starr. Judge Starr, it’s been alleged that 60 courts have refused to hear these cases, therefore, there was no fraud in the election. I guess another way of looking at this is that the court cases have been refused for procedural and technical reasons. When you see the 60 court cases rejected, do you think that’s a conclusion by our court system that there is no fraud, or do you think that the court cases were primarily rejected for procedural reasons?
Judge Starr: (01:23:05)
Right. Senator Paul, it is my understanding that the vast majority of these cases were rejected for rightly-stated procedural reasons, as opposed to a merits-based or substantive-based evaluations. And of course, we saw that very recently and I think most dramatically, by the Supreme Court’s unanimous rejection of the bill of complaint filed by the Texas Attorney General, my home state here. And the entirety of the decision was based upon the legal concept of standing. You just don’t, Texas, have standing to object to what happened in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania or whatever. And that is a reasonable ruling. There are those who would quarrel with it in that we are a United States of America, and if something bad happens in one state that ends up having an effect on other state, we have such respect for our states as sovereign entities within our Union, that the argument is I think, quite reasonable. And I think others think it’s quite reasonable that at least the matter should have been heard under the original jurisdiction. I think that’s a key example.
Senator Paul: (01:24:34)
Yeah, and I think it’s important though, that we look at this and understand what courts are saying and not saying. The courts have not said there wasn’t fraud. The courts just simply didn’t rule on or hear from the fraud. I do think there’s an important issue here, though. The fraud is one aspect of this, and I think courts have historically been reticent to get involved in elections and to look at fraud, but moving forward, we’ve got to change the rules, or reevaluate our state rules, in order that this doesn’t happen again. We can’t just sit by and say we’re going to let it happen again. There is another important aspect of this though, that is a legal aspect that I think does need to be heard by the courts. And I don’t know if it can be heard beyond the election, but I think should. And this is the question of whether or not people who are non-legislators, can change the election law.
Senator Paul: (01:25:20)
And this happened in many, many states, probably two dozen states decided to accept ballots after the election, two dozen states decided they could mail out applications or mail out ballots, all without the will of the legislature. Do you think there’s any hope for any of this being heard, Judge Starr, outside of the concept of changing the election? Is there any possibility any court’s going to ever hear this and say that it was wrong that Secretaries of State changed the law in the middle of this pandemic without the approval of the legislature? Or do you think there’s no hope because it’s mixed up in electoral politics, Judge Starr?
Judge Starr: (01:25:58)
I think there is a possibility, because this issue may return in light of the use, this unprecedented use, of mail-in ballots and the concern that is a bipartisan concern, again, the Carter-Baker Commission, that we need to look at these issues. I think there is a doctrine, Senator Paul, to essentially say, this issue may recur again, so it should not be washed out as being mute, because there’s a very important principle here as I made in my opening statement and in my written statement. Constitution is very clear, that it is the prerogative of state legislatures to determine what these rules and laws are. And that was, I must say, flagrantly violated in Pennsylvania, and perhaps elsewhere as well.
Senator Paul: (01:26:51)
Yeah. See, I think the legal question there is a very easy one to decide. I think even as a physician, I can figure out that the Secretary of State cannot create law. I do think though, that many of us who wanted this to be heard by the Supreme Court and are disappointed, actually also might be disappointed by the precedent of Bush v. Gore in the sense that I think Bush v. Gore’s precedent is shutting down elections that have been certified, they weren’t going to continue to count the hanging chads, the Secretary of State had certified it. I actually think that the Bush v. Gore precedent actually argues against the Supreme Court overturning certified elections. Do you have an opinion on that?
Judge Starr: (01:27:30)
I don’t have an opinion on that specifically. I think that Bush v. Gore stands for this basic proposition, you cannot have changes in election laws after the fact, you must in fact, be faithful to what the state legislature has done. That’s also what Justice Alito said in his opinion, I think essentially condemning, but certainly identifying as a huge issue, what had happened in Pennsylvania. I think all-in-all Bush v. Gore is just a reiteration of our constitutional structure.
Senator Paul: (01:28:00)
Thank you. Mr. Chairman, as we go on with this, I think it’s important that we not stop here. A lot of the laws that have to be confirmed, and I think reaffirmed, are state laws. So it’s not in our purview, but the state laws are set and then we have federal elections. What we’ve heard about what happened in Wisconsin, what happened in Nevada, I think is absolutely true, and we have to prevent it from happening again. I think state legislatures will need to reaffirm that election law can only be changed by a state legislature. I think there’s a lot of work to be done. While we will not dictate it to the states, I think we should have hearings going into the next year, hearing from state legislatures and what they’re going to do to make sure election law is upheld, not changed by people who are not legislators.
Senator Paul: (01:28:47)
And we do have an interest in that. I don’t want it to be federalized, many on the other side of the aisle would just soon federalize it and mail everybody a ballot, and we’ll have this universal corruption throughout the land. But what I think we need to do, is keep it at the state level, but we can’t just say it didn’t happen. We can’t just say, oh, 4,000 people voted in Nevada that were non-citizens, and we’re just going to ignore it, we’re going to sweep it under the rug. Oh, the courts have decided the facts, the courts have not decided the facts. The courts never looked at the facts. The courts don’t like elections, hence they stayed out of it by finding an excuse, standing or otherwise, to stay out of it. But the fraud happened, the election in many ways was stolen. And the only way it will be fixed is by, in the future, reinforcing the laws.
Senator Paul: (01:29:31)
And the only last comment I would say on what Mr. Krebs, and he can speak for himself, but I think his job was keeping the foreigners out of the election. It was the most secure election based on security of the internet and technology, but he never has voiced an opinion, he’s welcome to today, on whether or not dead people voted. I don’t think he examined that. Did he examine non-citizens voting? To say it was the safest election, sure, I agree with your statement if you’re referring to foreign intervention. But if you’re saying it’s the safest election based on, no dead people voted, no [inaudible 01:30:03] citizens voted, no people broke the absentee rules, I think that’s false. And I think that’s what’s upset a lot of people on our side, is that they’re taking your statement to mean, oh, well there was no problem in the elections. I don’t think you examined any of the problems that we’ve heard here. Really, you’re just referring to something differently, is the way I look at it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (01:30:23)
Senator Carper: (01:30:29)
Thanks, Mr. Chairman. To our witnesses, those that are here, and those that are afar, we welcome you. I just want to say to Chris Krebs, on behalf of many, many of us on both sides of the aisle, thank you for your leadership, for a job well done. Thank you for your courage to speak truth to power. Mr. Chairman and colleagues, President Lincoln once said these words, he said, “If given the truth, people can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” Those are his words. That’s what we in the Navy call, the straight skinny, the straight skinny. And with all due respect, the American people have had the facts with respect to the outcome of this election for some time now. The truth, the straight skinny, if you will, is staring us in the face.
Senator Carper: (01:31:22)
It may not be what President Trump and his supporters wanted, but Joe Biden and Kamala Harris received more votes than any ticket in American history. That’s a success for our democracy, it’s something we ought to be celebrating, a success made possible in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, thanks to ordinary citizens who volunteered as poll workers across the country. Many of them risked their own health to oversee a fair account while hundreds of thousands of postal workers worked tirelessly to deliver absentee ballots. U.S. Cybersecurity Infrastructure Agency, ably led by Chris Krebs, has called this election the most secure in American history, he’s called it that again here today. And throughout this country, courts have flat-out rejected claims of elected irregularities. Conservative Trump-appointed judges in state after state, have dismissed the Trump Campaign’s claims calling them baseless and worse. Now let me just cite a couple of examples.
Senator Carper: (01:32:32)
In response to the legal challenge from trial of the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania, a federal judge appointed by President Trump, and a long-time member of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote that, “Charges of unfairness are serious, but calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges requires specific allegations and then proof.” He went on to say, “We have neither here, neither here.” And one of the most strongly worded opinions came from a Wisconsin state justice who served as President of a chapter of the Federalist Society and is Chief Legal Counsel, the former Republican Governor, Scott Walker. Here’s what he said, “Something far more fundamental than the winner of Wisconsin’s electoral votes, is implicated in this case.” He wrote that in declining to hear a case asking the court to overturn the election results. And he went on to say this, “At stake, is faith in our system of free and fair elections, a feature central to the enduring strength of our constitutional republic.”
Senator Carper: (01:33:38)
And to that, I think we should all just say, amen. We learned though, this week, that the arguments from the Trump legal team thus far, have been defeated 59 times out of 61 in state and federal courts. 59 times, including 9-zip by the Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court just last week. I’m wearing my mask here from my alma mater, an undergraduate alma mater at Ohio State where I was a Navy ROTC midshipman. But if the football coach at Ohio State were to go 2-59, over a period of four years, he would be fired. He would be fired. And in fact, that’s what the voters of this country have done with our President, like it or not. Those 61 cases, at least 59 of them, were not close calls. And suit after suit, across red and blue states, and opinions written by liberal and ultra conservative judges that Trump Campaign’s largely-contrived allegations have been rejected. Four years after Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won it by a whopping 7 million votes.
Senator Carper: (01:34:58)
And they received 306 votes in the electoral college just earlier this week, a margin described four years ago by candidate Trump, as a landslide. But what if the outcome is not as definitive four years from now, or eight years from now, what if? And with different judges on the bench, different candidates, and a lot less integrity and courage from state and local officials, a defeated party might somehow be able to steal an election, as alleged here, falsely. Think about that. It somehow might be able to steal an election. Friends, that ought to scare the hell out of all of us. Meanwhile, many of the President’s supporters across the country continue to spread misinformation and foreign false allegations about the Presidential Election. The truth of the matter is, in a lot of states, many of the voters who voted for Joe Biden for President, turned around on their ballots, and they voted on down-ballot races.
Senator Carper: (01:36:03)
… their ballots and they voted on down-ballot races to our chagrin as Democrats, they voted Republicans. They voted for Republican in congressional races, and state legislative races, and more. You know what we call that in Delaware? We call it ticket splitting. It’s as old as our democracy. It’s not a conspiracy is plain and simple ticket splitting. We’ve done it before, and we’re going to do it again. Let me go on to say that what we say in this committee and in this body matters.
Senator Carper: (01:36:34)
And if we continue to push what the courts have overtime overwhelmingly called baseless claims of fraud, we not only risk permanent damage to our democracy. We also become complicit in threats and attacks against election officials, and ordinary citizens. In Georgia, non-partisan election technicians have faced death threats, simply for doing their jobs. The Georgia Secretary Of State and his family have received death threats.
Senator Carper: (01:37:08)
Mr. Krabs, our witness here today, a Trump appointee, has been bombarded with threats ever since an attorney for President Trump’s campaign said on national TV, what did he say? He said, “Krebs should be taken out at dawn and shot.” And just as we quote credible threats of violence, closed the Michigan state Capitol, and the lectures in Pennsylvania needed law enforcement escorts when they went to cast their votes. This is not the America that our founding fathers dreamed of. This is shameful; enough already.
Senator Carper: (01:37:43)
We have work to do. To get America back on track. Starting right here. Right here in this Congress, in this House. All of us, Democrats and Republicans here in this body need to do our jobs. And that’s just the beginning. There are over 250 million Americans who need to be vaccinated. There are millions of businesses that need a helping hand, tens of millions of students who need to be back in school, getting an education, hundreds of thousands of hospital and nursing workers who just need a break.
Senator Carper: (01:38:15)
But it’s going to be hard to move forward as a country with dispatch, or as a Congress, until we accept the clear results of this election and turn the page. In 1787, colleagues delegates from 13 colonies convened in Philadelphia to debate the future of our country.
Senator Carper: (01:38:34)
They disagreed on a lot of things, but they all agreed on this. They didn’t want a King. And responding to arguments for the Trump legal team in Wisconsin, a member of the State Supreme Court there echoed these sentiments recently, when she said to them, quote, “You want us to overturn this election so that your King can stay in power, that’s un-American,” close quote. And you know what? She was right. It is un-American. So Mr. Chairman and colleagues, when [inaudible 00:03:03] Chairman’s not sitting here, he’s [inaudible 00:03:04] voting, but when Chairman Johnson, when he became the leader of this committee in 2015, he pledged to run this committee, and I quote, “With a spirit of bipartisan, teamwork, respect, integrity, and professionalism.” That’s been the hallmark of this committee for years, for decades. And those words were reassuring to me. I know they were to our colleagues on this committee, to the staff that we lead.
Senator Carper: (01:39:26)
And a few years later when the chairman and I worked together, introduced, and enacted bi-partisan Presidential Transition Improvement Act. He said, and I quote, “The peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next is the hallmark of our democracy,” close quote. Those are words we hope and expect to hear from our leaders. Words that appeal to our better angels. Words that unite us not divide us. And sadly, I fear that today’s hearing may not be truly reflective of those words.
Senator Carper: (01:39:56)
I hope I’m wrong. But if I’m not, today’s hearing could prove deeply disappointing to me and to 330 million people that we serve across this nation. Let’s not disappoint them. And as we continue with this hearing today, I would just say to our chairman, you asked our witness to stand and take an oath to tell the truth.
Senator Carper: (01:40:23)
It’s only fair for all of us to hold ourselves to the same standard. If our nation’s leaders don’t embrace the truth in our daily discourse, then we no longer have a democracy that will endure calling an election unfair does not make it so. And spreading misinformation in this committee or any committee, doesn’t just stay inside these four walls.
Senator Carper: (01:40:42)
I’ll conclude with this. I began my statement today with the words of Abraham Lincoln. I want to conclude it with the words attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Here’s what he said. “If the people know the truth, they won’t make a mistake. If the people know the truth, they won’t make a mistake.” So let’s tell them the truth. Let’s tell them the truth today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. The truth will keep us free. The truth will keep us free. It always has. It always will. Thank you.
Sen. Lankford: (01:41:19)
Thank you. The chairman ran down to vote quickly, and we are in the middle of a vote series. And so we’re going to maintain the hearing and continue to be able to move through this hearing process, though there’s two votes. And so you’ll see us switching back and forth while he is running to vote. I’m going to sit in for a moment for the chairman, and I’m going to recognize myself for the next bat of questions. I happened to be next in line. So I’m not actually pulling time here, but I want to be able to recognize myself and be able to do that. When he returns, we’ll switch out and I’ll run to vote. And then we’ll run back and forth.
Sen. Lankford: (01:41:53)
December, 2016, there was a poll that was done on if the American people believe that the Russians interfered and changed our election. At that time, 32% of the people believed that the Russians had influenced the outcome of the election in December of 2016. Based on that belief and what was going on, there was launched a whole series of hearings. Certainly the Russians were trying to interfere in our elections, but we spent millions and millions of dollars investigating it and going through it.
Sen. Lankford: (01:42:25)
Ramping up entities like CISA and others, to be able to go engage people, to be able to make sure we can protect our next election. Senator Klobuchar and I worked for years on election security legislation, and worked to be able to get that implemented. We did six different public hearings on Russian interference, just on that one topic to make sure that we were paying attention to it. When it all started with 32% of Americans in December of 2016, believing the Russians had interfered in our election.
Sen. Lankford: (01:42:53)
A few days ago, another poll asked the question, do you believe that it was election and voter fraud in the presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump? This December, 46% of the voters in America have said, yes; 45% saying no. Interestingly enough, Trump voters say that was fraud, 80%, Biden voters also said 16%, that they believed that there was voter fraud. The reason I bring that up is we watched what happened in 2016 and what the American people thought and saw.
Sen. Lankford: (01:43:30)
And so we engaged with hearings, we looked at the issues, and determined, do things need to change? Much of the work that’s gone on in the last several years to be able to get paper ballots into States happened because this Congress engaged on an issue where we saw an obvious problem. And so we distributed federal dollars, assistance, and a constant drum beat to say, these States have got to fix the areas where they don’t have paper ballots, and we have the potential for problems.
Sen. Lankford: (01:43:57)
That was the question. Is there a potential for a problem? The answer was, yes, there’s a potential, and we ought to fix that. Now, amazingly, after this election, all kinds of issues have come up and said, “There are potentials for problem.” And everyone seems to be saying, “Move on.” The only reason I can think that that would be different was because the election outcomes seem to be different. And one side is now saying, “Let’s just move on and ignore this.” In my state on election night, like 27 other States in the country, by that evening, we were counting votes and all absentee ballots had been received.
Sen. Lankford: (01:44:38)
There was much less opportunity for accusations of fraud because all of our ballots were in. Amazingly enough, a week after the election was completed, this November, Oklahomans were listening to other States that were saying things like, “We don’t know how many more ballots there are to count.” We had been done for a week.
Sen. Lankford: (01:44:58)
We and 27 other States had been completed for a week. That gives opportunities for fraud, and questions, and problems. That’s a reasonable question to ask. It’s reasonable to be able to ask if people can drift around and gather ballots from other people and do ballot harvesting, and in some States that’s legal. Does that provide an opportunity for fraud? I think the obvious answer is yes.
Sen. Lankford: (01:45:21)
The obvious answer is, if you mail a ballot to everyone in the state, even if they didn’t ask for it, does it provide an opportunity for fraud, especially when the state did not first purge or verify those addresses, and they sent thousands of ballots to people that no longer live there. I’ve talked to Nevada residents that received multiple ballots at their home for people that no longer live there. That’s a problem. And we should at least admit that’s a problem.
Sen. Lankford: (01:45:51)
And for some reason, the other side was very focused on, we’ve got to fix the potential for problem from 2016, but in 2020, when there’s potential for problem, and things that have been shown, everyone seems to say, “Move along. Let’s not discuss this.” There’s a system called the ERIC system that’s in place that 30 States cooperate with.
Sen. Lankford: (01:46:10)
It helps them verify people have moved and they’re registered in two different States, or if they’ve moved into your state and they’re registered somewhere else. It helps them determine if they’re voting in two different States. Only 30 States use that, other States are not. And even of the 30 States that use it, not all of them are actually using it. They literally are on the system, but they’re not actually purging their roles. When they know there are people that have moved out of their States and have been informed of that.
Sen. Lankford: (01:46:41)
Just this last year in the ERIC system, they identified 91,000 people that are registered voters that are dead; 91,000, that that one system had recognized. There are problems in the system. And in this conversation that I’ve had with so many people, and I’ve said, “Is it a problem that people were voting in two States? Is it a problem that people are voting after they’re dead?” And this is what I hear over and over again, “This has been going on for years.” So why don’t we fix it, should be the next statement.
Sen. Lankford: (01:47:14)
Instead, the statement seems to be, “Well lets just move along.” Mr. Binnall, 42,000 people in Nevada voted more than once, accordingly to your work in this; 42,000 people. 1,500 people voted in Nevada that were dead. 19,000 people voted though they did not live in Nevada, and they weren’t a college student.
Sen. Lankford: (01:47:38)
8,000 people voted from a non-existent address. 15,000 people voted though they were registered to a commercial address, or a vacant address. And 4,000 people voted in Nevada that are non citizens. My question to you is, in my state when someone votes twice, and we do have that occasionally and about 50 times a year, that that actually occurs in our state, we prosecute individuals that vote twice. Of this 130,000 instances that you have identified from the 2020 election in Nevada, do you know of any prosecutions currently going on in Nevada for any voter fraud?
Jesse Banal: (01:48:16)
Not yet Senator, and that’s extremely important. These laws have to be enforced. We, of course… I represent the Trump campaign and the campaign’s electors. I don’t represent the government. We can’t bring prosecutions. But if we are going to enforce voter integrity laws, they must be enforced. And we are confident that although it often takes a long time to put together a fraud case, although it takes prosecutors months, sometimes even years to go through subpoenas, and warrants, and using the FBI to go investigate these things.
Jesse Banal: (01:48:51)
Once a good hard look at these cases is examined, an honest look, if we do that, there should be charges brought. Because the ranking member brought up in his remarks, that when you lose the principle of one person, one vote, the end result is authoritarianism. That’s exactly what we’re saying here today.
Sen. Lankford: (01:49:14)
Right? And that’s a major issue. Ms. Chairman, could I ask for one additional moment? Judge Starr, you’ve raised twice, this issue about Pennsylvania and that the laws of Pennsylvania were changed. In Oklahoma, we did state bill 210, and state bill 1779, because we saw with the pandemic, there were going to be problems.
Sen. Lankford: (01:49:32)
So our legislature came into session, made a change to be able to adjust for how we were going to do early ballots and early voting. Because we knew that was the law that needed to be followed. Was that done in Pennsylvania? And does it matter who sets the law and the rules for elections?
Judge Starr: (01:49:49)
No, it was not done. Unfortunately in Pennsylvania, the governor saw to change the law. The general assembly of Pennsylvania had met, reviewed, and made various and sundry changes and reforms. And then in the Pennsylvania Supreme court building, what the governor had done, made additional changes. And those in my judgment, were complete violations of the United States constitution, and flagged as such preliminarily by Justice Samuel Alito. So the Oklahoma legislature did it the right way.
Sen. Lankford: (01:50:24)
Judge Starr, thank you very much. Senator Hassan.
Senetor Hassan: (01:50:29)
Well, thank you very much. Just want to test that folks can hear me?
Sen. Lankford: (01:50:33)
Senetor Hassan: (01:50:35)
Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. And for our ranking member, I want to also thank all our witnesses for being here today. And I’d like to specifically acknowledge former CISA Director, Chris Krebs. Director Krebs, I want to thank you for your work in standing up the agency as CISA’s first director, and in securing our elections. I remain deeply troubled by your abrupt and unjustified dismissal, which has made our country less safe.
Senetor Hassan: (01:51:05)
Now more than ever, the challenges of this pandemic and our nation’s increased reliance on online services requires the experience and steady leadership that you have displayed. Even so, I want to express my deep thanks to you and to the men and women at CISA for the work that you have done, and will continue to do to help make our country and our communities safer.
Senetor Hassan: (01:51:28)
Now, I have three questions for you, Director Krebs. Let’s start with this one. As the CISA Director, you attempted to tackle disinformation campaigns via the rumor control effort by CISA. That’s the name you all gave it. Rumor control is a resource featured on CISA’s website to debunk common misinformation, and disinformation narratives. So, first, in your time as CISA director, were you ever asked by any administration official to refrain from debunking disinformation or misinformation?
Christopher Krebs: (01:52:03)
Yes, ma’am. Thank you for the question. I was never directly approached on any rumor control, changes or alterations. I understand my staff was, I told them that if anyone had any problems with what was on rumor control, I was the Senate confirmed leader of the agency. Ultimately, I approved content and they would need to come talk to me about that. And I never got that phone call or visit.
Senetor Hassan: (01:52:25)
But you are saying that staff did report to you that there was outreach from officials asking them to make changes.
Christopher Krebs: (01:52:33)
Senetor Hassan: (01:52:35)
Were you ever asked to take down an entry that debunked a conspiracy theory?
Christopher Krebs: (01:52:40)
Not directly, no ma’am.
Senetor Hassan: (01:52:42)
Was your staff?
Christopher Krebs: (01:52:44)
They were asked about some of the content. And again, I reiterated and reinforced that I owned that content. And if anybody had an issue with it, they needed to come talk to me.
Senetor Hassan: (01:52:54)
Was it ever implied that your job was at stake if you didn’t ease up on debunking disinformation?
Christopher Krebs: (01:53:02)
I certainly never interpreted any statements or anything along those lines. No, ma’am.
Senetor Hassan: (01:53:08)
Well, I would like to explore with you further, perhaps after this panel, some of what you just said in terms of your staff. But I want to move on to a couple of other things, just in the interest of time. Director Krebs, given your experience with tackling disinformation, I want to talk about the post-election disinformation campaign that has been waged. The president and many others, have tweeted outlandish claims of massive voter fraud, and truly wild conspiracy theories.
Senetor Hassan: (01:53:43)
However, the president’s lawyers won’t, or don’t usually bring these same claims when they go into court. When they do, the judges often conservative or Republican appointed judges, have dismissed them. Director Krebs, given your experience with disinformation campaigns, why do you think there is such a Gulf between rhetoric and reality? What’s the goal of this disinformation campaign?
Christopher Krebs: (01:54:10)
I think generally the disinformation now, currently particularly domestically, is being used to create confusion and drive a certain narrative. But our point with rumor control at CISA was about identifying initially foreign activities, but it became more of a domestic or even uncertain origin. And it was things again, like hammer score card, some of these claims of malicious algorithms, and they were pretty straightforward to debunk in the early days, but they continue to this day.
Christopher Krebs: (01:54:45)
There’s confusion being sewn about how election machines are used, how they fit into the process. Even now in Michigan, right now with Antrum County, there was a forensics audit done on some of the machines there. And there was a group that released a report. And it’s a 22 page report. I looked at it, and others have looked at it. And to me it implies that those systems are compromised and not dependable.
Christopher Krebs: (01:55:14)
And you can’t trust the votes, and any other the machines across the state. So I was a little concerned about that. And I looked at the report and it claims that there were a 60% error rate in the machines, the elect election management systems. And so again, I dug into that and it makes the claim that then, 68% of the votes cast are therefore not dependable.
Christopher Krebs: (01:55:37)
And, and I’ve seen those claims being repeated on social media by the campaign, by the president. And so I wanted to understand what that was all about. So I looked at it, and in fact it was not that there were 68% of the votes that were errors. It was that the election management systems logs had recorded 68% of the logs themselves, had some sort of alert rate. And that is being used to spin that that machine is not trustworthy.
Christopher Krebs: (01:56:09)
But the problem is, is the report itself doesn’t actually specify any of those errors except for one. And it’s on page 19, or actually it’s on page 20. And it says, “There is no permission to bracket zero bracket.” And that is being claimed to mean that somebody tried to get in the machine and wipe the records. And so I looked at that and I said, “Okay, I don’t know if it actually says that.” And something jumped out at me, having worked at Microsoft, that these are Windows based machines.
Christopher Krebs: (01:56:41)
The election management system is a Windows based machine. And the election management system is coded with a programming language called C Sharp. There is no permission to bracket zero bracket, is a placeholder for a parameter. So it may be that it’s just not good coding, but that certainly doesn’t mean that somebody tried to get in there and zero. They misinterpreted the language in what they saw. In their forensic audit. And that’s just one example.
Christopher Krebs: (01:57:14)
They misinterpret, and Don Palmer, Commissioner Palmer, I’m sure can talk to us about whether there’s a Hava 90 day safe Harbor rule. Or, which of the VVSGs is applicable to those machines, and whether that machine… So I’m seeing these reports that are factually inaccurate, continue to be promoted. That’s what rumor control is all about. That’s what I’m continuing to do today based on my experience and understanding in how these systems work, we have to stop this. It’s undermining confidence in democracy.
Senetor Hassan: (01:57:47)
And I thank you so much for that statement. Mr. Chair, I’ll note that a couple of other people have gone a little bit over their time, and I have one more question for Mr. Krebs [crosstalk 01:57:55], and with your indulgence, I’d like to ask it.
Sen. Johnson: (01:57:58)
Senetor Hassan: (01:58:00)
Director Krebs. I thank you for that response. I think it’s a very important example of the kind of disinformation and spinning that is happening. That frankly puts confidence at risk and put some of our people at risk. You have noted in the past that we have a very diffused selection system that is administered at the local level.
Senetor Hassan: (01:58:19)
At individual polling locations there are often numerous non-partisan officials involved in administering a community’s voting process. That diffusion of responsibility also makes it extremely unlikely that there would be a single point of failure or fraud that could sway an election.
Senetor Hassan: (01:58:38)
Director Krebs, you have worked with the numerous election officials across state, local governments. Can you speak to how the diffuse nature of our election systems affects the security of our elections? And just also in the interest of time, I want you to comment to sadly, some of these nonpartisan officials at the local level have been subjected to harassment, and even death threats. So can you speak to the impact of these threats? And do you think the president and his allies have done enough to condemn the threats of violence?
Christopher Krebs: (01:59:09)
I’m not aware of much in terms of condemning the threats of violence, having been a recipient of some of them. I think it’s, again in a front to democracy that the citizens of the United States of America that are responsible for executing this sacred democratic institution of elections are being threatened on a daily basis. I mean, you, you name it; whether it’s emails, whether it’s phone calls, whether it’s people showing up at your house, I know this is not America I recognize, and it’s got to stop.
Christopher Krebs: (01:59:46)
We need everyone across the leadership ranks to stand up. I think I would appreciate more support from my own party, the Republican party to call this stuff out and end it. We got to move on. We have a president elect in president elect Biden. We have to move on. These officials that are Republicans. Look at Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, Gabriel Sterling, Jeff Dunkin. These are Republicans that are putting country over party. That are being subjected to just horrific threats as a result. This is not America.
Senetor Hassan: (02:00:23)
Well, thank you, Mr. Krebs. Thank you Mr. Chair for your indulgence. And Mr. Krebs, Thank you for your patriotism.
Sen. Johnson: (02:00:30)
Thanks. Thanks Senator Hassan. Senator Scott went to vote. So is Senator Rosen available?
Sen. Rosen: (02:00:37)
Yes, I’m here. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning to all the witnesses here today. I want to start out by saying, as members of Congress, we take an oath to support and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We have responsibility to our constituents and our nation to defend our democratic process. But that being said, Mr. Krebs, we thank you for your service to our nation and for upholding your oath to defend the constitution from foreign and domestic threats.
Sen. Rosen: (02:01:10)
Your efforts to protect the integrity of our democratic process, help ensure that the 2020 election was the most secure in American history as certified by the Department Of Homeland Security. I’d also publicly like to thank Nevada’s election workers, who despite Mr. Binnall’s comments in the media and here today, worked long hours to ensure that Nevada’s elections were free, fair, and secure.
Sen. Rosen: (02:01:36)
Both our Republican Secretary Of State and our Democratic Attorney General had stated there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud occurred in Nevada. And our highest court has said the same, and I will not give this false narrative about my state any more attention than it has already unfortunately, received.
Sen. Rosen: (02:01:56)
However, we do know that foreign adversaries like Russia have peddled false narratives. September 3rd, the Department Of Homeland Security warned that Russia has been spreading disinformation about the integrity of US elections since March. This evidence is alarming. According to Althea Group, ahead of the election, Russian media sources like RT and Sputnik were already pushing the narrative that the US would not conduct free and fair elections.
Sen. Rosen: (02:02:22)
Last month, the election integrity partnership found that social media accounts tied to Russian internet research agency, amplified claims of election fraud leading up to the 2020 election. Mr. Krebs, to reiterate, were there any election systems successfully hacked by foreign adversaries in the 2020 election?
Christopher Krebs: (02:02:42)
Ma’am having been out of the job now for five weeks or so, based on what I understood when I left, I’m not aware of any voting machine involved in the casting or counting of votes in this election, or the certification process that was accessed by a foreign adversary.
Sen. Rosen: (02:02:58)
Thank you. So I want to just emphasize the difference between election interference and influence. So we know our election infrastructure was secure from interference. I want to turn to the issue of foreign influence campaigns. In your view, did adversary succeed in amplifying the false perception, our election process was fraudulent?
Sen. Rosen: (02:03:19)
And really, can you explain how domestic actors amplified foreign disinformation campaigns and how that undermines confidence in our democratic process?
Christopher Krebs: (02:03:31)
So I think what we saw, I believe it was October 22nd. We did see some Iranian efforts. I’ve talked about this before, where there were some emails that popped up on that day claiming to be purportedly from at least the Proud Boys that were talking about… Sent specifically to democratic voters that said, “You need to change your registration to vote for President Trump. If you don’t, we will find you and take care of business,” I guess. The issue there is that ballot secrecy is a law in all 50 States. And so we identify that issue. We isolated it. And then put up a rumor control debunker.
Christopher Krebs: (02:04:08)
And in the meantime, in the ensuing 27 hours, we were able to determine that that was in fact, an Iranian operation. And I think what was one of the true success stories of the protect 2020 effort and defending democracy this time around, was the fact that rather than four months, in 27 hours, we went from detection to sharing that information with the American people.
Christopher Krebs: (02:04:33)
There was one element that doesn’t get a lot of play though, is that prior to making that assessment following up on my commitment to our partners in the state and local election community, we held a call with the election officials and said, “Look, this is what we’re seeing. You need to know this. And then we went to the public.”
Sen. Rosen: (02:04:54)
Mr. Krebs, I just have about two and a half minutes left. So I would like to yield the rest of my time to you because you did take an oath to uphold the constitution when you were sworn in as Director of CISA. And so I want you to address anything that you feel we haven’t already asked today, and give you an opportunity to speak in the last two and a half minutes, please.
Christopher Krebs: (02:05:16)
So thank you for that courtesy. Look, I could not be more proud of my team at CISA for the work they did. Not just protecting the 2020 election, but in getting through the last nine months of all the stresses that COVID placed on the workforce. And coming to work each day, whether they’re sitting at home, out in the field, or the limited folks that came into the office, so that’s point one.
Christopher Krebs: (02:05:45)
Point two was, I firmly believe that this Protect 2020 effort, working with our partners in the Federal Government, whether it was in the intelligence community, or the Department Of Defense was the single best representation of a unified government effort. Every body got it. There were no turf Wars. There was no parochialism. Everybody was on the same page. So we were defending democracy.
Christopher Krebs: (02:06:14)
The last thing I’ll say is that the real heroes here are the state and local election workers out there across the country, the hundreds of thousands of election workers that risked their lives. And that’s not a joke, right? There’s a global pandemic. There’s COVID spreading across the country. They went to work so that you and I could go vote, and cast our decision here, contribute to this process. They had to deal with incredible adversity. And then at the end of it risking their lives, they get death threats for doing their jobs, for standing up, speaking truth to power, putting country over party.
Christopher Krebs: (02:06:58)
That’s got to end. We’re going to have to move past this somehow. I’ve said before that democracy, yeah, we survived this, I think. It was strong enough to survive, but democracy in general is fragile. It requires commitment and follow through on both sides. If a party fails to participate in the process, and instead undermines the process, we risk losing that democracy. We have to come back together as a country.
Sen. Rosen: (02:07:32)
Again, I thank you for being here. I thank you for you and your tunes, your teams around the country for keeping us safe and working so hard in this past election. Thank you.
Sen. Johnson: (02:07:44)
Thank you, Senator Rosen, Senator Scott is not back yet. To Senator Portman. Are you on WebEx? Senator Holly, are you on WebEx? I’ll try Senator Sinema.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:08:02)
I’ll try Senator Sinema. Well, then I’ll pick up the slack. Mr. Binnall, I want to explore a little bit further in terms of what access you did not have to the information you requested to verify this. Again, I value that the paper backups, I value the controls, but they’re only as good as they’re actually used, and they only provide confidence to the extent that it’s a transparent process. So just speak a little bit to what you had access to, what you did not have access to, what you’re denied, and then go ahead.
Jesse Banal: (02:08:50)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, the very sad fact is that we were denied access to almost anything meaningful that would allow us to verify the controls.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:08:58)
Can you be specific?
Jesse Banal: (02:08:59)
Absolutely, Senator. Let’s talk about the paper backups on the electronic machines. We were denied any access to those, except for from one machine in the entire state of Nevada. We were denied that access. I wish I could have quoted Mr. Krebs, when we were fighting our discovery fights in Nevada, saying how important it was to get access to these. We couldn’t see any paper backups. And on top of that, the printers on the machine were malfunctioning at such a high rate, we doubt that the paper backups were actually giving us anything of use anyhow. So these paper backups that are supposed to provide such transparency, we couldn’t use them. We couldn’t see them. We couldn’t use the… They provided us zero transparency at all, except on one machine in the entire state of Nevada.
Jesse Banal: (02:09:53)
Another example is the fact that we were denied any meaningful discovery in the case, in order to go and examine the full extent of the voter fraud. For instance, even when we were able to subpoena the records that led us to discover those 4,000 noncitizens who voted, we couldn’t put that into evidence because we didn’t get them until the end of the discovery period. And then the court said, “Well, at that point, it’s too late.” Our discovery period was essentially three days, and we were denied any meaningful opportunity to even use in our case the information that we got. And the court didn’t even consider those things, unfortunately. We tried to be able to understand the code of these machines, to be able to find out for instance, as the chairman pointed out, whether machines were hooked up to the internet, whether any of that happened, to be able to do a forensic review. We brought forensic experts all the way to Nevada, people that could have discovered this information, people that could have told us what happened with these machines. And we weren’t allowed near and we weren’t allowed any forensic audit of it, nothing that could have given us any transparency, because transparency is not political. That’s what we’ve talked about here. That’s what we were denied in Nevada is any attempt to actually find out what happened. Here’s the troubling thing, one of the reasons that they said that we couldn’t get transparency on these machines because they’re proprietary. The information, the coding, was proprietary. But we’re talking about the countings of votes for the office of President of the United States, and they’re not going to let us see the code for how they actually coded the votes? You got to pick one. It’s either open source and we exactly know the way that these machines are counting the votes, or you have to go back to a verifiable system to make sure that the results that are being reported are the results that we get from actual voters, because that is where democracy breaks down.
Jesse Banal: (02:12:06)
That is really the fear that we have of losing democracy is when it’s not the people’s votes that are being counted, but fraud that’s being counted. And we can’t just pretend that the emperor has any clothes if he doesn’t. We can’t pretend that we have a clean election when there’s evidence to the contrary. And the way that we get that is through transparency, and we were denied that in Nevada at every single turn. We had a clerk, a registrar of voters, who literally dodged our subpoenas. We had the holiday weekend over Thanksgiving in order to serve subpoenas. They lock the doors of the offices. He locked himself in his house. He refused to accept a subpoena. That same registrar of voters, we have a whistleblower that says he was wearing a Biden Harris pen to inspect voter sites. This isn’t something where we’re trying to attack officials. We’re trying to say that we have to make sure that it’s nonpartisan, that we have to make sure that there’s transparency, and you can’t deny transparency at every turn, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:13:06)
Mr. Krebs, real quick, mindful that again, all this testimony is under oath. So what you heard from Mr. Binnall, his testimony under oath, does that trouble you? And in your assessment, this was the most secure election. Again, I’m all for paper backups, I’m all for those controls. I think, if used, it works. We have a system of advocacy in terms of a legal system. You advocate for one side… It’s a combative system, but both sides have to have information. Does that trouble you, in terms of lack of transparency that Mr. Binnall is testifying to under oath?
Christopher Krebs: (02:13:47)
I think a couple of things here. One is that in Commissioner Palmer’s opening statement, he talked about the certification process, the voluntary voting systems guides, the certifications that happened at the state level, the logic and accuracy testing of these machines, the parallel testing that happens the day of or during the election process, the sampling and forensic audits. We saw Georgia do that with the number of their machines to ensure that the hashes match what they expected. I do think that, yes, we need to make sure that we’re working with these vendors, that we have the appropriate insight and transparency into the process, certainly. I would I think we need to have a conversation on what the appropriate auditing process looks like. I have seen some auditing that is not necessarily up to snuff, so we need to explore that a little bit more fully. But again, we’re talking about paper backups, but we’re also talking about paper ballots.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:14:37)
But again, he just said they didn’t have access to the ballots. Again-
Christopher Krebs: (02:14:42)
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:14:43)
Again, all I’m asking, does that trouble you that there wasn’t that kind of transparency? Or are you challenging his testimony?
Christopher Krebs: (02:14:50)
Oh, of course not. I don’t have [inaudible 02:14:53] there.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:14:53)
Okay. So again, this system, we only have confidence if it’s completely transparent and somebody who’s challenging results has access to the information, the paper ballot backup, can have their forensic experts look at the computer systems. And that wasn’t afforded. I’m just asking, does that concern you?
Christopher Krebs: (02:15:12)
I think that there are multiple controls in place throughout the system. It if there is a legal mechanism at the backend that allows for independent third-party auditing.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:15:23)
But that’s the problem. The legal system didn’t allow for the transparency. Okay, you can talk about all these controls up front, but then in the end where they are affidavit signed and people are making charges, when you can’t obtain the evidence to actually try it in court and your evidence is denied in court, do you understand how that frustrates people? And again, that’s the problem. That’s why there’s suspicions, because this was not, in so many cases, that we’ve heard about a transparent process. But with that, I’ll turn to Senator Scott.
Senator Scott: (02:15:54)
Thank you, Chairman Johnson. And I want to thank Chairman Johnson for taking all the heat for hosting a hearing like this. I think it’s the right thing to do to get people to feel comfortable that our elections are free and fair. And if this one wasn’t, that the next one will be. Two years ago, I got elected. I won election night by 54,000 votes. And Chuck Schumer sent a lawyer down and basically said, “I don’t care what the votes are. We’re going to win through the courts.” And we went through unbelief number of lawsuits. We had, I think, something like a thousand lawyers working with us. We went through two recounts, and he didn’t care what the votes are. Chuck Schumer’s goal was to win, and his lawyer, was just a win through the courts, and it didn’t matter what the votes are.
Senator Scott: (02:16:45)
And he didn’t let me come to orientation. And so when I watch this stuff now, I did not remember one Democrat in this country say, “That’s not right. You shouldn’t be doing it that way.” They were all in on this. And nobody complained. We’ve got to figure out how to do this where people feel comfortable. I can tell you, I live in Naples, Florida. Every time I go out, people come up to me and they’re frustrated with the unfairness of the system. Now, of course, these are people that wanted Trump to win. They think that he’d lost unfairly, but they’re mad. They’re mad because they read, they hear about what happened in Wisconsin. They hear about what happened in other states. And then they’re furious that they think the whole system’s rigged.
Senator Scott: (02:17:38)
So one thing I did is in September, I put out a bill called the Voter ID. We do absentee ballots, and it actually works in Florida. You have to be a registered voter. Your signatures have to match. You have to get your vote in, ask for your vote early. You have to get your vote in on time. It’s your problem if you don’t. It’s not somebody else’s. You don’t get to vote after the fact. Your vote doesn’t get to come in after the fact and so be counted. Although two years ago, the Democrat lawyer tried to do that. And we know that we get the votes out on time. We did it this time. So it seems to me that if we want people to feel comfortable in this country, that these elections are fair, you have to show your ID.
Senator Scott: (02:18:27)
You can’t be doing same day registration, because how can you tell if somebody is legal, illegal? I mean, how would you know? Do they live in that state? How would you know? You’ve got to let people be able to watch ballots being opened. We had two election supervisors that were removed because of what they did in my election, and they were clear. They completely violated the law, and they found and tried to count 95,000 ballots after election night. Not my in favor, of course, in the Democrats favor. So Judge Starr, what do you think about the need to have local elections? Because I think what Mr. Krebs said is right. One of the reasons why we have good systems here is we don’t have a national system. We have a local system, but should we have national standards?
Senator Scott: (02:19:17)
Should you have to have ID? Should your signatures have to match? Should you have to be… You can’t get registered on the same day that you vote. All these things that we have like we do in Florida, where you have to get your ballot early and all these things, and how many… By the way, you’re supposed to announce how many ballots you have that night. You should know, right? They didn’t in my election and that’s how they kept finding them. So Judge Starr, what do you think about this idea that we have to have some national standards but still have locally local elections?
Judge Starr: (02:19:47)
I think national standards need to be seriously considered in light of these recurring issues. We all anecdotes. One of my friends, an academic leader in the Commonwealth of Virginia where I used to live, here’s an anecdote. One of his students, a registered voter and Vermont, but she’s studying and Virginia. And she receives, appropriately, an absentee ballot from Vermont, but she receives four unsolicited pallets from the Commonwealth of Virginia, where she happens to not be registered to vote but she’s studying.
Judge Starr: (02:20:24)
And everyone is hearing these anecdotes, and they’re saying, “Well, aren’t there a control mechanisms in place?” And so the issue of centralization, you’ll continue to have these varieties and vagaries, unless and until there is some enormous reforms in state government or in Congress using its powers under Article Two, under Article One in this particular instance says, “We need to step out and have regulations to ensure integrity.” And a signature requirement is one of the basics. I like to say, Senator Scott, you’ve got to show ID if you want to check into a hotel or get through some TSA security. So don’t we want to have those kinds of safeguards just to ensure, yes, this is going to be an honest election, which I think we are all asking for.
Senator Scott: (02:21:15)
So Mr. Troupis and Mr. Binnall, if we had done some of these things and they’d been enforced in your states, would people feel comfortable that there was a fair election?
Jesse Banal: (02:21:27)
Senator Scott, I think it would absolutely go miles to make sure that people were confident in the results of the election if we put in simple methods to make sure that the people who vote are who they purport to be, that one person only gets one vote, that the way that the ballots are counted leads to an accurate total. These things shouldn’t be partisan. These things should be exactly what we do to protect our Republic and make it so that people know that the results are accurate, because otherwise you end up where we are today.
James Troupis: (02:21:59)
Senator, one of the fascinating things about Wisconsin is, as I said, we have a long history of real transparency in our process, in our recount process, in all of our processes. So it’s particularly odd here. And several of the justices on our court this last week called what the Democrats had done in the majority of the court, in the Supreme Court, as absurd and bizarre.
James Troupis: (02:22:22)
And the reason they referred to it that way is they said, “The issue here is what confidence do people have in the election process?” So if that’s what we hear, and I’ve been hearing that all day here, confidence in the election process. Well then why, when everything is teed up… I mean, I’m a former judge, my co-counsel is a former president of the state bar. We had teed up everything. We absolutely knew the names, addresses, wards. You had exact records. And what the Biden campaign did not want the court to do is to actually address the substantive question. That’s the holding of the court. We won’t address the substantive question. And the chief justice, I mean, it’s a great frustration in the chief justice when she said, “Four members of this court throw the cloak of latches over numerous problems that will be repeated again and again until this court has the courage to correct them.”
James Troupis: (02:23:27)
Candidly, it was all Democrat talking points. I mean, they did the same thing. I heard something about Justice Karofsky’s comment. It was just a talking point. And I guess the frustration you hear from those of us who are serious lawyers, who have taken this seriously, is that when we pose these matters to courts, we expect them to address them. When they don’t, it undermines the integrity of our system. That’s what’s going on here. The frustration that you hear, even in good Democrat circles, is if the courts don’t address these, who’s going to? Aren’t they the ultimate arbiters? There’s no dispute that the election would have turned out differently in Wisconsin if, according to our allegations and according to our proofs, the court accepted those, that the election result would be different.
James Troupis: (02:24:29)
But instead of addressing the substantive claims, the Biden campaign argues, “Don’t talk about them. Don’t address them.” And that’s why I thanked Senator Johnson when he first called and asked if I would talk. Because if you don’t inquire here in the Senate, and as Ken Starr said a minute ago, if you don’t do this inquiry, there really isn’t going to be any analysis and there isn’t going to be an opportunity to get the very integrity that we all want. I mean, as I said, as a former judge, and this is a serious matter to me. And no one suggested at any point in the process that the allegations in Wisconsin are anything but serious and substantive and documented. And yet a court takes the Biden line and says, “We’re just not going to talk about it.” And that’s just wrong. And that’s the reason, one of the reasons, people don’t trust this outcome.
Senator Scott: (02:25:30)
Yeah. In Florida, we we have a lot of people that moved from South America. And so a lot of them have said to me, “How is this different than what Maduro is doing?” All right? I mean, and part of it is people don’t have enough information, but it’s so simplistic when you hear about people that are dead that are vote, people that don’t live in the state who vote, and you hear all these things and there’s no recourse. So we’ve got to figure this out. We’ve got to be able to prevent this from… I don’t know if anything will happen with this election, but clearly we can’t let this go on for the next election.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:26:06)
Senator Scott: (02:26:07)
Thank you, chairman.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:26:08)
Thank you, Senator Scott, and I completely agree. You have to air these. You have to have the information. This is not a dangerous hearing. This is an incredibly important and crucial hearing. But thank you for participating in it. Senator Portman, are you available by WebEx?
Mr. Portman: (02:26:25)
I am, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. I’ve been moving around the Capitol as we’ve had to vote, but I was at the hearing earlier and I appreciate the witnesses and all the information we’ve received. And as I look at this issue and even watch some of the back and forth today between our colleagues, it seems to me that pulling this out of politics a little bit and having a bipartisan group that is more independent look at the issue is a good idea. In part, because most of us don’t believe that this ought to be something that the federal government usurps from the states. In fact, we believe that the constitution got it right, and that generally speaking, it’s better to have the states handle this. But there are obviously many disparities between how the states do it.
Mr. Portman: (02:27:10)
So there was discussion earlier, I think it was the Carter Baker Commission. I would ask you Mr. Starr, is this time for us to establish a commission? I’ve been involved in some of these commissions. I’ve been a commissioner and co-chaired some that have worked, some that haven’t worked. But often they can be quite effective at taking the partisan poison out of an issue and addressing it in a very straightforward way. If you had a distinguished Democrat and a distinguished Republican and commissioners who are dedicated to increasing the confidence in our elections, do you think now is the time for us to establish such a commission, that could report, with plenty of time before the next midterm election, and help to give the states a sense of direction and perhaps even a template of best practice?
Judge Starr: (02:27:57)
The short answer is yes. In light of the acrimony and the division with respect to the 2000 election, bringing together Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State Baker was, I think, very efficacious. They made thoughtful recommendations, but they bring attention and shed light on what the issues are. And so, yes, I think taking it out of what is clearly continuing to be a highly bitter and acrimonious discussion, and to say to the American people, “We’re going to take a look at us and we’re going to try to in fact improve. In the great spirit of reform, we want honest elections.” Abraham Lincoln, the subject of the fraudulent mail in campaign. Let’s not lose sight, even though I’m thankful that foreign interference and so forth, and I very much admire Mr. Krebs and all that. But we’re really talking about down in the boiler room, so to speak, of American elections, and that’s where I think these reforms and safeguards need to be put in place.
Mr. Portman: (02:29:04)
Well, thank you for that. And I’m looking forward to working with one of my democratic colleagues to try to promote this idea. We’ve had some discussions of it already. And I think again, today, what we’ve heard is indicative of the degree of intensity on this issue and the need for free and fair elections. I think everybody agrees with secure elections, absolutely. And you mentioned Mr. Krebs. Chris, thank you for your service. I agree with what was said earlier about the fact that during your time you were instrumental in building up our defenses on the cybersecurity side. Particularly thank you for working with the Ohio secretary of state, Frank LaRose, so well. Frank LaRose and you, I think were able to provide some examples for other states, as I understand. You can speak to that. But we have in every county in Ohio, the so-called Albert Intrusion Detection Monitoring Hardware, which is designed to detect suspicious cyber activity. Can you brief me on the benefits of using this kind of detection and monitoring hardware and how it worked?
Christopher Krebs: (02:30:05)
Yes, sir. First off, I want to thank you for… actually just the state of Ohio. For some reason, in my senior staff, in my front office, my two of my top three advisors happened to be from Ohio. So you’re doing something right there. The Albert systems or intrusion detection-
Mr. Portman: (02:30:22)
I’m going to have to put on my mask after you said that, since [inaudible 02:30:25] had his Ohio mask on earlier.
Christopher Krebs: (02:30:28)
So the Albert systems or intrusion detection systems that effectively sit on the networks and on the wire that capture traffic, that we can work with our intelligence community partners and develop what’s known as signatures looking for known malicious activity or known interaction with suspicious IP addresses, just looking at for bad interaction. And it gives us a good insight into what sort of behaviors maybe happening on those networks. And they are actually pretty key. After the 2016 election, once we were able to get a sense of what was happening in Illinois, we could load up some of those signatures and then go do forensics. It is a passive system. It’s a forensic system.
Christopher Krebs: (02:31:14)
Where we need to go though is building on the trust we’ve developed through the Albert sensors and through the ISAC and through the coordinating councils to start deploying more advanced technologies. And I’m specifically talking about some of the endpoint detection and response capabilities that will actually sit on a computer in a state and local office and be more of a real-time monitoring and mitigation capability. That’s how we continue moving forward. We need the same capability in the federal government. We’re not there yet. But we have to continue advancing and I think Congress is-
Mr. Portman: (02:31:46)
Christopher Krebs: (02:31:48)
I’ll stop there.
Mr. Portman: (02:31:48)
Chris, and I, again, as you know, I’ve talked about this. I appreciate what you did for elections. I also am very concerned that our federal government is not up to the task, generally. And that’s another topic for another hearing, perhaps one where you’ll be back to testify. But look what’s happened just recently. In the last week, we found out that a very sophisticated group of hackers got into the computers, some of our most sensitive agencies. And so we obviously have a lot of work to do. And I’m not suggesting that CISA was at fault there. But on the other hand, I think we have not yet given even CISA the adequate resources and authority to be able to handle all these issues, not just the election issues. But obviously, we have a huge problem right now with cyber attacks and we don’t know all the details yet. And I won’t ask you to get into stuff you don’t know about, but it was a massive cyber attack on federal agencies that undercut our national security. We know that.
Mr. Portman: (02:32:40)
By the way, Senator Paul earlier talked about the fact that there has been some lack of understanding between what you testified to and what you stated as to the election being secure from cyber attacks and this notion that there were not instances of irregularity and fraud in this election, which of course there have been in every election in the history of our country. And there were in this election, and we’ve heard about some of those today. Is Senator Paul correct? And I guess I would slightly amend what he said. He said that your focus was just on foreign adversaries. My sense is your focus was not just on foreign adversaries, although you feel fairly confident that that did not happen this time. And obviously, based on what happened in 2016 with the Russians, this is good news. But also with regards to domestic cyber attacks, is that what your report was about? Is he accurate in saying that?
Christopher Krebs: (02:33:29)
Yes, sir. So when you come into federal office, you pledge to the oath to uphold and defend the constitution from threats foreign and domestic. And that’s what we did. The focus of the statement, the joint statement was security. It was secure. I think terms have been conflated here alleging that we were speaking to the fraud aspect. We absolutely were not. We were talking about security, hacking, manipulation of these machines. That was the thrust of the statement.
Mr. Portman: (02:33:56)
Yeah. I think that’s very important to point out. And I think a number of people were confused about that, including perhaps some folks in the administration. Post election, there’s been a lot of talk about signature matching. And I’ll end with this, Mr. Chairman. I know we’re getting over time here. But in Ohio, what we do is, and we’ve been doing this for 15 years, quite successfully. We send out an application for an absentee ballot. It’s a no fault absentee. I that’s how I vote. But you have to send in an application, including a signature.
Mr. Portman: (02:34:26)
Those signatures are checked. And then the signature on the actual ballot, once you receive the ballot and you send that in, you have another signature and that’s checked. And then of course, the two are compared. They also, in Ohio, have access to other signatures if there is some confusion as to whether it might be the right person or not. Could you, Mr. Krebs or others, perhaps comment on that system? Is that a good way to ensure that you have the protection that we all want to have, that the person who requested the ballot that is an eligible voter and that the returned ballot was completed by that same person?
Christopher Krebs: (02:35:00)
I’m not an expert on the system. It seems reasonable to me.
Mr. Portman: (02:35:06)
Anybody else want to comment on that?
Francis Ryan: (02:35:08)
Sir, this is State Representative, Frank Ryan. I would tell you that that is a good system and that would alleviate significant number of the concerns that I had in the election. And based upon some of the comments that were made by many of the senators and the testifiers, I would indicate that we saw a major problem with the .com bubble in 2001, which went to The Sarbanes-Oxley Bill, much of which is the basis of my testimony today.
Francis Ryan: (02:35:35)
And in 2008 and 2009, we had the crisis that happened to the banking industry with the no documentation loans. We saw how that worked. That led to the Dodd-Frank Bill. I would hope that what happened in the 2000 elections and in the Abraham Lincoln election, in this most recent one in 2016 to 2020, there will be similar legislation that could help us restore the confidence that people have, that there’s some degree of uniform perspective about the requirements that each of the states needs to be able to comply with. What Ohio is doing would have alleviated a major amount of the concerns I had when we had a Supreme Court that decided to legislate from the bench.
Judge Starr: (02:36:12)
And Mr. Chairman, if I may say just a word, and that is, I think what Senator Portman, you have identified, is a best practice. And it certainly qualifies as one of the things that perhaps a commission, if one is found, it can say, “We have canvased the entire 50 states, and here are the best practices.” The recommendations could be based on experience as opposed to simply theoretical constructs. Let’s just see what has worked in the various states with reputations for honesty and integrity.
Mr. Portman: (02:36:43)
That would be the objective. Thank you, Mr. Starr and thank you, Mr. Chairman for your indulgence.
Senator Hawley: (02:36:48)
Thank you very much, Senator Portman. Now on behalf of the chairman, I’m going to recognize myself. So thanks to the witnesses for being here. I just want to say how important it is that we’re having today’s hearing. Let me just give you an example of why. Yesterday, I was talking… I’m from the state of Missouri. Yesterday, I was talking with some of the constituents back at home, a group of about 30 people. Every single one of them, every one of them told me that they felt they had been disenfranchised, that their votes didn’t matter, that the election had been rigged. These are normal, reasonable people. These are not crazy people. These are reasonable people and who, by the way, have been involved in politics. They’ve won. They’ve lost that. They’ve seen it all. These are normal folks living normal lives, who firmly believe that they have been disenfranchised. And to listen to the mainstream press, and quite a few voices in this building tell them, after four years of non-stop Russia hoax, it was a hoax.
Senator Hawley: (02:37:53)
The whole Russia nonsense was based on, we now know, lies from a Russian spy. The Steele Dossier was based on a Russian spy. After four years of that being told that the last election was fake and that Donald Trump wasn’t really elected and that Russia intervened, after four years of that, now these same people are told, “You to sit down and shut up. If you have any concerns about election integrity, you’re a nutcase. You should shut up.” Well, I’ll tell you what, 74 million Americans are not going to shut up. And telling them that their views don’t matter and that their concerns don’t matter and they should just be quiet is not a recipe for success in this country. It’s not a recipe for the unity that I hear now the other side is suddenly so interested in after years, years of trying to de-legitimized president Donald Trump.
Senator Hawley: (02:38:40)
So suffice it to say, I’m not too keen on lectures about how Missourians and others who voted for President Trump and now have some concerns about fraud, about integrity, about compliance with the law should just be quiet and that they are somehow not patriotic if they raise these questions. It’s absolutely unbelievable.
Senator Hawley: (02:38:58)
Let me talk about the first amendment. Judge Starr, I want to begin with you because I know that you have spent much of your life as a litigator defending the first amendment. Have you ever seen anything like we saw in the closing days of the election when you had the biggest corporations in the history of this country, the most powerful corporations in the world, Facebook, Twitter, working with the Democrat campaign to suppress legitimate reporting on Hunter Biden, who we now know is under federal investigation for criminal wire fraud, tax evasion, other things? Have you ever seen anything in your career like that, Judge Starr, where we have these giant, corporate conglomerates censoring and suppressing news directly bearing on an election weeks beforehand, and doing it apparently in conjunction with one of the major political parties? Have you ever seen anything like that?
Judge Starr: (02:39:55)
No, I think we live in a new age and we need to go back to great lessons from constitutional law, as you well know, Senator Hawley.
Judge Starr: (02:40:02)
-from constitutional law, as you well know, Senator Hawley, and Justice William Brennan, an icon of the Warren Court, saying that our democracy is based upon robust and uninhibited debate and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes saying, “Let’s test things in the marketplace of ideas.” You can’t test places, ideas, and theories unless you allow the marketplace of information and communication to flourish.
Senator Hawley: (02:40:30)
Well said. I agree with that 100%, and it’s an extraordinary thing not to be able to get. I’ve had Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg under oath. We’ve asked them, “Did you coordinate with the Democrat campaign?” How was it that within minutes of this story breaking that both of those major corporate giants decided that they would suppress this story and exactly what the Biden campaign wanted them to do? They won’t answer questions. I’ve asked the FEC to determine whether or not this was an illegal campaign contribution on the part of these corporate entities. I just can’t fathom why anybody who cares about free speech in this country would be fine with these mega corporations controlling what people can and cannot say and trying to intervene in a presidential election.
Senator Hawley: (02:41:16)
Let me ask you, Judge Starr, about something else. Let’s talk a little bit about mail and balloting. In your written testimony, you discussed the findings of the Carter-Baker Commission, and you’ve mentioned that again here today. That commission commented on the use of mail-in ballots after the 2000 election. Can you tell us a little bit about that commission’s finding on mail-in ballots as you recall it and talk about some of the warnings that that commission put into place?
Judge Starr: (02:41:43)
Yes. The commission was referring to absentee ballots, but, of course, in light of what has happened in this presidential election, we’re now talking about the unprecedented use of mail-in ballots. They’re concern and their warning [inaudible 02:41:57] Former President Carter and Secretary of State Baker is that this is a mechanism or a platform for fraud and abuse. Be careful about it. Have safeguards in place. I think that’s at the bottom what some of these concerns are. How did dead people vote, accepting that allegation from Nevada? It’s because of inadequate safeguards. The dead person didn’t walk into the voting booth and vote. Someone voted for him or her. We have to have those safeguards in place, and that’s what the commission was saying and issuing that fervent warning that it may get worse in a deeply divided country.
Senator Hawley: (02:42:39)
In 26 states, as I understand it, when it comes to mail-in voting, Judge, 26 states now in this country allow third party ballot harvesting of mail-in votes. That’s where you can pay a third party to go distribute the ballots, and you can’t do this in my home state of Missouri, because we have control similar to those in Ohio that this report was talking about. But in other states, 20 states, you can pay a third party to go distribute the ballots. You can pay a third party to pick up the ballots. There’s no chain of custody there. There’s no verification. This seems to me an invitation to fraud and abuse. I’ve introduced legislation to end third party ballot harvesting nationwide, to make it illegal nationwide. Would you agree, Judge Starr, that looking at something like third party ballot harvesting is a common sense approach? By the way, some House Democrats even have endorsed this approach. Would you agree with me that that’s a common sense place to start when we think about preventing fraud and addressing it in our elections?
Judge Starr: (02:43:36)
Yes, because the opportunity for fraud and abuse is so rife and omnipresent with that kind of, if I may now call it, that worst practice. So many states have best practices. We heard from Senator Portman about Ohio. Other states have these safeguards in place. Let’s put safeguards in place, but one of them is let’s eliminate practices that are so prone to fraud and abuse.
Senator Hawley: (02:44:01)
I think that’s just the very beginning of what we should do. We should also make sure that poll watchers from both parties can be present at all times, that there are eyes on ballots, cameras on ballots at all times, that there are signature verification requirements that are mandatory, that there’s mandatory reporting requirements about where we are in the count, where the states are so states can’t go dark for days at a time. All of this stuff ought to be common sense. There is no reason we should just shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, fraud happens all the time. No big deal.” It is a big deal. It’s a very big deal. For millions and millions of Americans in this election, it’s a very, very big deal indeed. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:44:42)
Thank you, Senator Hawley, for your questions and for standing in. Based on one question and the answer from Judge Starr, I just want to read from my opening statement from last hearing. It was reflections on progress, peaceful coexistence, and intellectual freedom. Russian dissident Andrei de Sakharov wrote, “The second basic thesis is that intellectual freedom is essential to human society, freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate, and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices. Such a trinity of freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues can be transformed into bloody dictatorship. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee of the feasibility of a scientific, democratic approach to politics, economics, and culture.”
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:45:42)
I like to think that this hearing is a demonstration of that freedom to obtain and distribute information to the public. There’s nothing dangerous about that. It is essential to our freedom. It’s essential to our country, to our democratic republic, and it’s essential if we’re going to restore confidence in this election system we have. We have to do this. We can’t ignore the problem. The first step in solving any problem is admitting you have one and then dealing with it honestly, gathering the information. This hearing, as all my hearings have been, have been a problem-solving process, first gathering the information. That’s what we’re trying to do here today. Senator Sinema.
Senator Sinema: (02:46:25)
Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. The 2020 Arizona election was a successful election not for any one party or individual, but for our democracy and as a demonstration of the will of Arizona voters. A record 80% of registered voters participated. Arizonans are independent. They vote for state and federal representatives they trust to be honest, who they believe will fight for and uphold Arizona values. This record turnout number is also a testament to the work of Arizona election officials who not only ensured our system worked and our laws were upheld, but did so while ensuring that people could safely participate in the election during the pandemic as voters and volunteers.
Senator Sinema: (02:47:08)
Arizona has had some sort of absentee voting by mail for over 100 years. In 1992, the Arizona legislature and governor in bipartisan fashion made it easier for Arizonans to vote by mail by no longer requiring a reason to participate. Our vote by mail system has a number of safeguards to ensure safe elections. Ballots are mailed out 28 days prior to the election, and each ballot has a tracking mechanism. We use tamper-resistant envelopes, and ballot drop boxes have specific security requirements. Election staff are trained to authenticate signatures, and a voter is contacted if the signature cannot be verified. Arizona also has severe criminal penalties for ballot tampering or for throwing out someone’s ballot.
Senator Sinema: (02:47:52)
In 2018, when I was elected to the United States Senate, nearly 80% of Arizona voters voted early, most of them by mail. In 2020, that increased to 88%. That’s 2.9 million votes moving through the postal system in Arizona. Arizona’s postal workers put in long hours, many working 65 hours a week for weeks on end to ensure that ballots got to voters and were returned by state deadlines so they could be counted. Even though many postal facilities in Arizona are short-staffed right now, these essential workers didn’t shy away from the challenge or the need to protect our democracy.
Senator Sinema: (02:48:29)
Arizonans know it takes time to count our votes and determine election winners. When I was elected to the Senate, I was declared the winner in six days, but it took 12 days to finish counting the votes. Now, that’s not an indication of fraud. It shows that election officials are following the law and counting all the votes. That’s how elections have worked in Arizona since our state adopted widespread mail-in voting, and it’s how things worked in Arizona again in 2020. Our elections this year produced bipartisan results where members of both parties won elections. Arizona’s statewide elected officials from both parties have also confirmed that our election was fair, just, and without fraud.
Senator Sinema: (02:49:10)
Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State, on December 9th said this about our election. “This election is one for the record books for a number of reasons. Participation was at a historic high, as was interest in the inner workings of the civic process, which is the kind of scrutiny that pushes the process to be better. I have full confidence in this election. That confidence has been affirmed by the courts.”
Senator Sinema: (02:49:33)
On November 20th, Clint Hickman, the Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, a Republican, said, “No matter how you voted, this election was administered with integrity, transparency, and, most importantly, in accordance with Arizona state laws.”
Senator Sinema: (02:49:47)
On December 4th, the Republican Speaker of the Arizona State House, Rusty Bowers, rejected calls for the state legislature to change the result of Arizona’s election. Here’s his quote. “As a conservative Republican, I don’t like the results of the presidential election. I voted for President Trump, and I worked hard to reelect him. But I cannot and will not entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change the outcome of a certified election. I and my fellow legislators swore an oath to support the US Constitution and the constitution and laws of the State of Arizona. It would violate that oath, the basic principles of republican government, and the rule of law if we attempted to nullify the people’s vote based on unsupported theories of fraud. Challenges contesting, the Arizona election were brought to the courts and dismissed, including an unanimous ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court confirming a lower court ruling upholding the results of the election challenge. This is how our system works. If there are concerns or fraud or abuse, the courts consider the evidence and make a ruling.”
Senator Sinema: (02:50:50)
Now, I have a few questions for Mr. Krebs. During your work at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, did you find any evidence that disputes the statements I shared from elected officials regarding the integrity and fairness of the 2020 election in Arizona?
Christopher Krebs: (02:51:06)
Senator Sinema: (02:51:09)
More broadly, what evidence can you offer to support the idea that the election across the country, not just in Arizona, was fair and secure?
Christopher Krebs: (02:51:17)
Again, it’s those layered security controls that are in place before, during, and after an election. The thing that I always like to point back to is that increase of paper ballots across the country and the ability to then conduct post-election audits. In Arizona, I believe it was a 2% audit. In Georgia, they did a risk-limiting audit that then triggered a full hand tally. The outcomes were consistent. 5% audit in Wisconsin, 2% audit in Pennsylvania. Those are the sorts of things that give you confidence in the process, when you can go and recount the ballots over and over and over.
Senator Sinema: (02:51:55)
What lessons should we learn from the 2020 election as we plan for future elections?
Christopher Krebs: (02:52:00)
We need to invest in democracy. First and foremost, we need to fully eradicate those machines that don’t have paper ballots, so those direct recording electronic machines. There’s only one state that’s statewide, and that’s Louisiana. But they are throughout Texas, Indiana, Tennessee, and in a couple other states, including New Jersey. We need to get those out of the system. So Congress needs to fully invest in a risk-based approach to eradicate those. We need to also continue investing in post-election audit capabilities for the state. That takes a little bit more time, and then a steady stream of funding and grants on a regular basis, not every ten years or every four years, but on a regular, dependable basis to support elections.
Christopher Krebs: (02:52:48)
Along the same lines, we need to fully fund and support the Election Assistance Commission. They are a critical tool to helping the administration of elections. Lastly, and this is my pet project here, we need to reinvest in civics education in K through 12 throughout the country. We have to continue educating our children on what it means to be an American and the democracy that we’re enjoying here.
Senator Sinema: (02:53:14)
Thank you. My last question: Early in this election cycle, CISA and the FBI highlighted the potential threat that foreign elements could pose to the US election system through disinformation campaigns. Looking back, did the US do enough to prepare for this threat from both foreign and domestic actors?
Christopher Krebs: (02:53:30)
Ma’am, we had the distinct advantage this time around of having about three and a half to four years to prepare for this election, and that’s in comparison to the prior administration. They only had about four months. We had four years. I know my team, we took every moment of the day to think through any number of scenarios. I’ve talked about it often that I was paranoid, that we were looking for every angle that we possibly could, and I think that ultimately benefited us from a preparation perspective when it came around and that we had a full range of scenarios we’d worked through, that we’d improve security at the state level. But ultimately, it came down to those perception hacks. It came down to disinformation, and I think rumor control was an incredibly valuable tool that we need to think about from a government-wide perspective, how rumor control … I’ve said rumor control as a service. How can we use rumor control to help ensure we’ll rather counter disinformation on the vaccine for COVID as it rolls out? Those are the sorts of things we need to be thinking about.
Senator Sinema: (02:54:36)
Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I overextended my time. I yield back and thank you for your indulgence.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (02:54:41)
Thank you, Senator Sinema, for participating. I do want to just warn Mr. Palmer and Mr. Ryan. First of all, I apologize for not having maybe any questions directed your way. I will at the tail end of this. We have another quick round of questions here. Senator Peters has some. But I will ask you a couple of questions then. What I will tell all the witnesses as a final summary, actually got from this technique from Senator Carper, is we’ll give you each an opportunity to make kind of a final statement, things that either you weren’t asked that you wanted to be asked about or something that you just think needs to be said during this hearing. So we’ll do that, but I’ll first turn it over to Senator Peters for some extra questions.
Senator Peters: (02:55:23)
Hey, Mr. Chairman. A question for Mr. Krebs. As you know, you and I have spoken about the rise of domestic extremist violence in the country and how we need to be conscious of that rise. In August, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security memos reportedly warned of threats by domestic extremists to election-related targets in the run-up to the 2020 election. Unfortunately and sadly, these warnings seem to have been well warranted. Since President Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud, local election officials across the nation have faced harassment. Some of them have faced death threats against themselves and their families.
Senator Peters: (02:56:11)
In Michigan, our Secretary of State had protestors surround her home while she was decorating it with her young child to get ready for Christmas. According to local law enforcement, many of those folks were armed. They were repeating some of the president’s false allegations of widespread fraud in an intimidating way. After speaking out, defending the integrity of the 2020 election, it’s my understanding that you and your family also faced threats. In fact, it required us to make some arrangements for your security to be here today to testify in person.
Senator Peters: (02:56:55)
On December 1st of this year, a top Republican election official, Gabriel Sterling, in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office held a news conference urging President Trump and Republican lawmakers to stop attacking Georgia’s election system with baseless claims of voter fraud. In that news conference, Mr. Sterling said, “President Trump was,” and I’m quoting Mr. Sterling here, “inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence” and that ” someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed.”
Senator Peters: (02:57:35)
Now, we saw a similar dangerous trend earlier this year when election officials questioned COVID public health safety protocols and also fueled extremists, including in my home state, the extremists that targeted the governor of the State of Michigan. So my question for you, Mr. Krebs, particularly given the fact that you’ve faced some of this, do you believe Mr. Sterling’s statements are overstated or that unfortunately that real-world violence stemming from dangerous claims can indeed be a realistic concern that we should be conscious of?
Christopher Krebs: (02:58:12)
Absolutely. He himself received a number of threats, and he has continued to receive threats, as I understand it. Secretary Raffensperger down there has. I’ve continued to receive threats. It’s not just the principal-level people, the directors of the offices. He was having IT contractors that were receiving death threats. We’re seeing stoking of fires that is completely unnecessary with claims that are … I’m not even talking about some of the court cases. I’m talking about, in my case and in many of our cases, it’s these fanciful claims of dictators and computer algorithms.
Christopher Krebs: (02:58:58)
We’re debunking them, because they’re nonsense, and we’ve said that from the beginning. But they’ve taken root, and some people just don’t want to hear how these systems actually work and what’s actually capable across these systems. Most importantly, I’m going to say it again. I’m going to say it again, the paper ballots. It’s the root of trust in the process that can dispense with these claims. Even if these algorithms were there, they didn’t work, but they’re probably not there. So we’ve got to move past this, and these cases of threats, they need to be prosecuted. People need to be held accountable for the claims they’re making.
Senator Peters: (02:59:41)
Yeah, and just the last question. We spoke about this earlier, that if you’ll look at the fact that we were able to conduct this election in a fair way during the middle of the pandemic, which is an extraordinary time to try to conduct fair elections and do it as efficiently as possible, and the fact that you have thousands of election officials and volunteers that are working. I think of the men and women who went to the polling places to process voting. Did it with concerns about their health, people who went to vote, their health, or folks who chose to vote absentee in order to minimize the risk to their families, to the health of their families. This was really, in my mind, a time to celebrate a very successful election that was done fairly, and it was done in the midst of an extraordinary time that we’re living in. It’s the result of folks in CISA, your folks, others with Homeland Security, folks with the FBI and others. Would you just comment on that as to how we should look at what we just went through?
Senator Peters: (03:00:52)
That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be looking at ways to improve the system to make sure that we minimize clerical errors, to make sure that if there are isolated incidents of fraud, that they’re dealt with and they’re caught. But we should be also celebrating what just was pulled off in this country, which is an example of how a democratic system can work efficiently, fairly, and even do it under extraordinary pressure.
Christopher Krebs: (03:01:17)
I absolutely agree with the earlier conversation about the need for a national conversation about how to improve trust in the elections. I think things I’ve even recommended about eliminating the DREs and having more audits available after the election, and that’s going to require … Again, that policy conversation, it’s going to require investing in democracy. But we do need to recognize the fact that this was a historic election. We had 100 million voters by November 3rd. That shows that people wanted to get out there and vote. They wanted to participate in this process, and all along, we have hundreds of thousands of election workers out there that, as you’ve pointed out, as I said in my opening statement, that risked their lives in a global pandemic to make sure that we could all get out there and vote.
Christopher Krebs: (03:02:07)
So we need to support them. I have significant concerns that the targeted violence against these election workers is going to have a chilling effect on turnout of election workers in the future. If there’s no election workers, it’s really hard to do an election. So we need to think about that and how to counter that, going forward.
Senator Peters: (03:02:34)
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:02:35)
Thank you, Senator Peters. [inaudible 03:02:36] number of times we’ve talked about threatened violence against election workers, which obviously nobody on this committee condones at all, at all. I certainly hope there’s not an inference in all this discussion that this hearing is going to spawn some of that. Anybody listening to this hearing, do not engage in that. Okay? I wish Senator Paul were actually here to talk about his scrape with threats and violence in the political realm. We’re in a terrible position in this country where you have this level of threat across the political spectrum. Nobody should condone it, certainly not this committee, certainly not this chairman. But that’s what I think this hearing is about, is to provide the information, talk honestly about it, take a look at allegations. If they can be explained, take them off the table. There’s plenty that as we were doing our preparation for this hearing we were able to take off the table. But that’s what this is about. This is about information, obtaining it, the freedom to obtain it and disseminate it, information. With that, I’ll turn over to Senator Carper.
Senator Carper: (03:03:45)
Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Again, our thanks to our witnesses. You’ve been patient. You’ve been here for a long time, those of you that are here personally and those that are connected from afar. I mentioned earlier I had gone to Ohio State. Unfortunately, nobody in my family ever graduated from college. I won this Navy ROTC scholarship. I got to go to college and first in my family, I think, to graduate from college. When I got to Ohio State, I found that there was a little town just north of Columbus called Delaware. So my four years at Ohio State, I’m thinking of Delaware. I’m thinking, “It’s a little town just north of Columbus.”
Senator Carper: (03:04:21)
Then I found out later on it’s a state. When I finished out my active duty at the end of the Vietnam War and moved from California to Delaware to get an MBA, I learned that on December 7th, 1787, December 7th, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify, first colony to ratify the Constitution. Then 12 others followed suit, and we ended up with a country that prevails to this day.
Senator Carper: (03:04:50)
I’m a little bit of a student of history. I mean, we all are, but one of the things I learned about the framers, the Constitutional Convention up in Philadelphia, just north of where my wife and I live, our family lived just north of Wilmington, is they disagreed on a bunch of stuff. They disagreed on a bunch. Probably the hardest thing for them to agree on, as it turns out, was should there be a judiciary article? Two, I think it is, but should there be a judiciary, and if so, who’s going to pick the judges? They argued and argued for days, weeks trying to figure it out, and somebody come up with the idea and finally said, “It shouldn’t just be the Senate. It shouldn’t just be the House. It ought to be the president, the president to appoint with the advice and consent of the Senate.”
Senator Carper: (03:05:42)
So they voted on it, and they voted it down. Whenever they’d run into an impasse up in Philadelphia, they would bring in faith leaders to come in and pray for wisdom for framers. They did that again, and they debated some more for days. Finally, somebody said, “Why don’t we just go back to that earlier idea and vote on it again?” They did, and they adopted the clause that says the president shall nominate with the advice and consent of the Senate those who will serve lifetime terms, right? Extraordinary, as our judges.
Senator Carper: (03:06:23)
Is it a perfect solution? No. We’ve been wrestling for what, 200 some years, figuring out what is the advice and consent of the Senate? What’s that really mean? Just in recent months, we’ve been wrestling again with that. But it’s an imperfect solution to a very real challenge, and that is that we’re going to have disagreements. We’re going to have disputes that need to be resolved. I was talking about football earlier. In baseball, they call it balls and strikes. But to the framers, they didn’t have baseball to talk about it, but they knew they needed somebody to call balls and strikes and to have a system that most people say, “Well, that’s fair and reasonable.”
Senator Carper: (03:07:04)
Well, we’ve needed folks, judges, federal judges and others, to be able to call balls and strikes in all these litigation, 61 instances around the country, 61. They’ve done that, and some people like the results. Other people don’t. I think two points to make in closing before I have to go to another meeting, but one of those is at some point in time, we have to say, “Enough’s enough. It’s time to turn the page, and let’s get about our nation’s work.” Here this week, and we were just voting on [inaudible 00:27:48]. People have talked to me about negotiations that are going on on this COVID package, on [inaudible 03:07:53] climate change and ways to create jobs, all kinds of stuff that’s in play literally right now. It’s an exciting time to be in the Senate, and I’m encouraged by that.
Senator Carper: (03:08:02)
The other thing I’d say, in the Navy, I was a naval flight officer, later a P3 aircraft mission commander for a long time, active and reserve. Naval aviation, especially in the P3 community, you have a job on the airplane, on the crew. You have a job on the ground. For a while, my job was … I was described as an air intelligence officer when we were in Southeast Asia. I have a huge respect for intelligence agencies, and we’ve got a bunch of them. They’re really good ones. One of our friends, one of our former colleagues was the former senator from Indiana, and he ended up as DNI, Director of National Intelligence, and a good friend of, I think, all of us.
Senator Carper: (03:08:45)
Dan, I talked to him when stepped down as head of DNI. I asked him, I said, “Just talk to me as a friend and off the record.” I guess I’m going on the record. But I said, ” Are you convinced that the Russians were involved in trying to put their hands or their fingers on the scales on the presidential elections in 2016?” He said, “Without a doubt. Without a doubt, they were.” I said, “Well, there’s 17 or so intelligence agencies. Do some of them feel that way?” He said, “All of us do. It’s unanimous. Everybody feels that the Russians were interfering in our election in 2016 and they wanted to change the outcome.” He said they weren’t trying to help Hillary Clinton. They were trying to help Donald Trump.
Senator Carper: (03:09:39)
I’m not asserting that they were doing that at his request, but in a way, maybe they were, come to think of it. But there’s no question they were involved and with a purpose, with a single purpose, the Russians. We caught them red-handed, and we’ve been dwelling on that for four years now. We need to get over it. We need to get over it. I respect enormously the work of our intelligence agencies. I think we all do, but we need to put that in our rearview mirror.
Senator Carper: (03:10:17)
If we’re ever going to put this pandemic in the rearview mirror, we’ve got to figure out how to provide vaccinations timely, properly, correctly to about 250 million Americans. We don’t vaccinate kids under the age of seven. There’s 250 million Americans that we’ve got to get vaccinated not once, but twice in the right sequence. Good record keeping. Got to convince about 30% of people in this country that it’s safe to do this. We have to set an example for that. We’ve got a lot of work to do. If we do that, if we do that, we’ll be on our way to coming out of this recession and on our way to better days ahead for our country and for the people who really are counting on us. So I’d ask us to keep our eye on the ball.
Senator Carper: (03:10:55)
Let me close with, Mr. Chairman, if I could, we only have three counties in Delaware. The southernmost county’s called Sussex County, and there’s a town in Sussex County called Seaford, which is famous for being the first nylon plant in the world. It was built in Seaford, Delaware. They had 4,000 people working there from World War II up until about ten years ago. There’s a church close to the plant there. It’s a Methodist church, and the ministry used to be … There was an old guy, Reverend Reynolds, Reverend Reynolds, whose son was a Republican state rep and a football coach and a great guy. Reverend Reynolds, when I got elected governor, he said to me he wanted to come and sit and talk to me and visit with me and share some thoughts. I said, “Sure.”
Senator Carper: (03:11:39)
Everybody’s known in our lives, I’m sure, Chairman and Ranking Member, people that we’ve known in our lives that are just wise. They just have a lot of wisdom, and every now and then, every now and then, they share it with us. He came to meet with me, and he said these words. We were having a lovely conversation. We actually had lunch together, and he said to me, he said, “Just remember this, Tom.” He said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
Senator Carper: (03:12:03)
… is to keep the main thing the main thing, that’s what he said. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. I sat there and I said, “What in the world are you talking about?” It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally did. And I would just say the main thing here is to keep the main thing the main thing, and that is we have this gift, the constitution, it’s not perfect, but it actually puts us on the course for a more perfect union, a more perfect union. Hopefully, we’re going to learn from what we did well in this election and what we didn’t. And years from now, people will look back and say, “Well, they kept their eye on the ball. They kept their eye on the main thing.” If we do that, history will look well on our efforts. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you, Ray. To our ranking member, Senator Peters, thank you. And to our witnesses, again, thank you all.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:12:49)
Thank you, Senator Carper. Again, appreciate your outreach this morning. I would say the main thing of this hearing is the fact that we need to have confidence in the integrity of our election. And we have to recognize the reality that right now, and quite honestly, for the last four years, that hasn’t existed. 2016, illegitimate result, resistant. You remember the famous tweet by Mark Zaid. I can’t remember it off the top of my head, but something like, “Coup’s begun, impeachment will follow.” That’s what we’ve been living with with four years. Different election, different result, different side. And the reality is people have concerns and I’m just saying, these are legitimate concerns. You mentioned the courts. I’ve acknowledged the process has worked its way to a conclusion. I’ve got something like 59 court cases.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:13:47)
Now, many of these, as Mr. Troupis talked about, some were not decided on the facts, they’re just decided and dismissed based on standing, which again, that’s our process. That’s a legitimate decision by a court, but it’s not very satisfying for people who have some facts and want to be considered by a court, or Mr. Binnall, the same thing in Nevada. So to deny the reality that we have a problem, a very serious problem, that’s not the main… The main thing is we have to acknowledge that problem and we have to work together to fix it, to restore the confidence. So let me just to see if I can wake up Mr. Ryan and Mr. Palmer, make sure they’re there. Ask a couple of questions of each of you and then I’ll give all of you the opportunity to kind of make a relatively brief… This is actually a long hearing for us.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:14:41)
I know judiciary committees sometimes goes on long, but this is a long hearing for our committee and I really do appreciate the involvement of members who took this thing seriously. But Mr. Ryan, are you there?
Francis Ryan: (03:14:53)
Yes sir, I am. Thank you, senator.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:14:56)
Sorry about that. I hope you had lunch or something in the interim. Representative Ryan, in our conversations, you were talking about, as Mr. Binnall talked about, your inability to get access to certain things that I would hope Director Krebs would agree should be transparent and that those of you having questions about or even challenging results should have access to in order to mount an effective challenge. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Francis Ryan: (03:15:26)
Absolutely, senator. As a former chair of the audit committee of publicly traded companies and currently the chair of the [inaudible 03:15:34] committee, the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, the control of environment is a critical component of it. Mr. Krebs is referring to, as an example, the security systems. And I don’t dispute his comments on that at all and I applaud the great work that’s been done at CISA. But until the entire control environment, that’s the turn at the top, has been properly evaluated and documented to where you can have a Six Sigma or a Lean systems approach that allows you to be able to have those transparent auditable result, it violates one of the basic principles of any systems of internal controls. One of the things that we tried to deal with with the Sarbanes-Oxley build that I think it was done effectively was this concept of control deficiencies, significant deficiencies and material weaknesses.
Francis Ryan: (03:16:21)
The absence of the ability to provide a timely audit of that information is problematic. And I would just like to just make this comment, I’ve spent a lifetime as a reserve officer, so I was also on active duty either in Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, Operation Iraqi Freedom. I helped supervise some of the elections results in Iraq in 2005 after I was called out of retirement. And I would pray that all those sacrifices made by the millions upon millions of people who served in our military to support and defend the constitution of United States against enemies foreign and domestic would be upheld as well on our shores, so we can ensure the same type of election integrity that we’re asking for with transparent, fair and accurate results to be assured within the United States. We know 44 of the states apparently went off without a hitch so we have six states that we’re dealing with.
Francis Ryan: (03:17:19)
That’s a pretty good track record, but unfortunately when you consider the fact that four of the states were that razor thin margin close, the results of the election could have been in question. I concur, senator, that most of the results have already been looked at from a challenge from a legal perspective, so it’s probably [inaudible 03:17:38] for the current election, but I pray that the Senate will take up this battle standard and say, we need to really reaffirm to make sure that the people have the faith and confidence in our election systems. I try to move by a triangle of faith. The faith is to believe, to believe is to have faith, and to have faith is to have trust. Whenever that trust triangle is broken, we will have difficulties and discord will follow. And I pray to God that every person listening to this testimony hears your words and says, let’s have a peaceful resolution of all of these concerns we have so we can get on with business as usual.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:18:16)
Thank you, Representative Ryan, and thank you for your service. And we will come back to you for your closing comment. Mr. Palmer, in our discussion prior to this hearing, and again, I appreciate your service and your membership of the commission, you talked about some things that troubled you with this election. Can you just kind of review those with the committee?
Donald Palmer: (03:18:42)
A few of the things that I was concerned about, I think that raised the emotions from the political campaigns, some of it was the treatment of poll watchers. I believe transparency is a very important thing and one of the concerns I had was that people need to be treated with respect. I understand as an election administrator that often, we’re doing our job and we don’t believe anybody needs to be watching the process, but some of the reports, it gets back to sort of the way we treat each other in this country, and if a poll watcher is observing the process, they have a right to be there to observe the process, they need to be respectful of the election official. There were some significant reports that that process was interfered with and people were treated very poorly.
Donald Palmer: (03:19:29)
And it’s not the first time. I wrote to the Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division, and one of the things that I saw often was based on party or race, citizens treat each other poorly and even in the context of elections. And so I think that we need to make a commitment, a respect toward each other and to each political campaign. I think that that was the major issue. I think that hearing a lot of the reports about the inaccuracy or the voter rolls, I’ve been talking about this for a long time. It’s because there’s just not the focus or the resources provided at the state or local level, in my opinion, to maintain the accuracy of the voter rolls. I think that a lot can be done in a non-partisan way, in a very smart way with technology. Election officials don’t often have the latest technology and so upgrades to voter registration systems and to resources of data can help them clean and make sure their roles are as accurate as could be.
Donald Palmer: (03:20:31)
And frankly, I just think that this has become somewhat of a partisan issue and therefore, any attempt to maintain the accuracy of the roles and be seen as a negative, this is what happens is that if you have highly inaccurate roles, then there’s perception of fraud. Sometimes there’s actual fraud, we actually see that, and it may not change an election except in a close race, but our job as administrators to make sure that there is no fraud and mitigate and minimize any irregularities, that’s the goal. Only with technology and resources and a commitment to doing it will we see those instances decrease. And that’s why I believe technology and resources are some bipartisan ways to decrease that, sir.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:21:19)
You could also, because your commission does act to certify some of these voting machines, not all of them, but in some states, can you just quickly, and I mean quickly, go through kind of what that certification process is. And I think that was one of the issues you did see is somebody trying to get back into those machines inside that certification process.
Donald Palmer: (03:21:43)
Well, we have a certification process for voting systems. One of the vulnerabilities that we have, and I believe CISA would agree, is that the non-voting systems that are tied to the internet, they perform important functions like voter registration, electronic poll books. There is those standards or testing, and that’s one of the things that we’re trying to do at the EAC with adequate funding we could do. But it’s a big gap in our defenses and it’s one that we may not have been burned this time, but it is a vulnerability and we need to take care of it.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:22:13)
Okay. Well, thank you. Well, now we’ll move to closing statements here and we’ll go in reverse order. So again, former Director Krebs, again, I appreciate your service to the country, I appreciate what you accomplished. As you know, I’ve acknowledged that repeatedly. I think the fact that we’ve gone from 82 to 95% paper backup, that’s all great stuff. And I certainly appreciate you coming here and testifying today so I’ll let you with any closing comments go ahead.
Christopher Krebs: (03:22:43)
Thank you, Chairman Johnson. I’m going to keep this short because I think this is a historic hearing for me. This may be the longest hearing that I’ve had in this chamber so I will try to wrap this one up quickly. First is thank you to you for your ongoing and constant support of CISA. You were key in getting us across the finish line in the Senate and ultimately in November of 2018. So thank you for your leadership there, supporting other key initiatives for the agency, including the administrative subpoena bill. So thank you for that. Just a quick comment to the team at CISA if they’re watching, it was an honor to lead. Thank you for that opportunity to lead you. You’ve got a great future ahead of you, keep at it. And then lastly, thank you to the other witnesses for showing up today and thank you for what they do. But again, thank you to your leadership here and good luck.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:23:33)
Well, maybe based on the retention issue, you might encourage them to stay a little bit longer, but I’ll do that. Mr. Binnall.
Jesse Banal: (03:23:41)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We cannot ignore voter fraud away. We can’t just wish it away. Unfortunately, that’s what the media these past weeks has been trying to do in the most biased reporting I think I’ve ever seen or even in headlines. They try to claim that the evidence I’ve seen with my own eyes is somehow not there. We can’t wish it away. It is just simply right now a gaslighting attempt on America. This is real, this happened. We have to address it. We cannot intimidate the problem away. Rightfully, much testimony today has talked about why it’s so important that government officials, election officials not be intimidated. But myself, the lawyers on my team, volunteers, whistleblowers, there’s a number of people who have stood up for this fraud that have faced similar death threats, similar intimidation, similar harassment.
Jesse Banal: (03:24:45)
We don’t pay it, I don’t pay it a lot of attention because no one is ever going to intimidate me away from pursuing the truth, pursuing the law, representing my client, but we need to make sure that other groups that are out there that are encouraging the intimidation of lawyers, even from threatening to go after their bar cards on one side, going after their clients or going after their safety or their lives, that cannot stand either. We cannot stonewall it away. I talked briefly about some stonewalling attempts. One other that we ran across in Nevada is that we had Postal Service employees that we knew of that were directly told to deliver ballots to undeliverable addresses. That is what resulted in ballots being littered all across apartment mail rooms and trash cans everywhere. And they were told in many instances to deliver ballots to undeliverable addresses.
Jesse Banal: (03:25:53)
And the United States Postal Service, they obstructed our ability to get that evidence in our case. We lost one of our 15 depositions because the United States Postal Service actually obstructed that. It raises the question with all this stonewalling that we encountered, what do you have to hide? And I think we know in this case what there is to hide. I said in my opening statement, the government by consent of the governed is hard to win and easy to lose. That’s why it’s so important that we take this so incredibly seriously. Senator Hawley told a very important story about his constituents and I ask all senators to think about their constituents, to think about how you’re supposed to tell your constituents to turn out to vote if they don’t know that it’s their vote that’s going to matter, that they don’t know that their vote is going to be canceled out by the fraud of somebody else, their votes are going to be diluted by these irregularities. We can’t pretend that this problem didn’t happen, it did. This is the United States of America, we don’t run from that, we fix it. We have to use every arrow in our quiver to fix it because it did happen and it’s now on all of us to make sure that we fix it. I really appreciate the committee’s time and the chairman’s time. Thank you.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:27:22)
Thank you, Mr. Binnall. Representative Ryan.
Francis Ryan: (03:27:29)
Senator, thank you very much [inaudible 03:27:32] in having this hearing. If I could just conclude with these comments. Our nation is at a crossroad. No matter what happens with any of the work that is being done relative to looking at this, since probably about the year 2000 and apparently even went back as far as 1787, although I wasn’t there for that particular meeting, shortly thereafter, but not that one, the consent of the governed will determine whether or not they believe in the results of any election. It has gotten significantly worse. It’s one of the reasons I ran for office. I was elected in 2016, obviously later in my life. We have to examine the processes from start to finish. CISA has done a phenomenal job in so many different respects and under the concerns relative to COVID-19, I actually recommend using the CISA standards. And for all the poll watchers, all the co-workers, the directors of election, God blessed them for the great work that they’ve done.
Francis Ryan: (03:28:41)
By the same token, there is a point in time now where we as a nation have to sit back and say, we have to solve these problems. We have to take a look at the entire process from start to finish and the ability of people to interfere with those election results, the ability of the person to be able to change the system of controls that we can no longer rely on. I’ve heard some of the comments today, and I go back to what I heard in 2007 and 2008 when I was a practicing CPA keeping companies out of bankruptcy, and Meredith Whitney was bringing up the concerns she had about the strength and stability of the banking industry, and she was vilified. Michael Lewis when he wrote The Big Short was vilified. The assumption was that no-documentation loans were not dangerous, ignore that concern that both of them had, nothing to be concerned about.
Francis Ryan: (03:29:33)
Shortly thereafter, there was a triggering event and the housing bubble burst and the United States was thrust into one of the worst issues that we’ve had to deal with financially in a long time. Many states are still recovering. I would tell you, we are at that seminal moment today relative to the sanctity of our elections that have probably been building since 1787, but now is the time for all of us to sit back and say, we need to not vilify one another, and senator, I applaud you for your willingness to get to an open transparent basis here, but we need to sit down and do these types of hearings. As much as the band-aid being pulled off may be painful, we need to expose these concerns so that the 150 million people who voted can once again feel with confidence that the election process works and their vote mattered.
Francis Ryan: (03:30:27)
Senator, thank you for your time and for the great work of your entire staff.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:30:31)
Well, thank you, Representative Ryan for your testimony and your service to this country. Mr. Troupis.
James Troupis: (03:30:38)
Senator, thank you very much. I want to say that right off the bat, that I’m honored to represent the president. I was honored to get the call, but I’m not naive. One of the reasons I was called is because virtually every major law firm in this country and in this city refused to represent the president, not because of the lack of merit of his claims, we’ve certainly demonstrated there’s merit, but because of the cancel culture, because of the environment that has been created by the left that has intimidated lawyers so they can’t be here. They’re not here from the giant law firms, precisely because they were ordered by their management committees and others, that you cannot take those cases. And the reason you cannot take those cases is because our clients or the Democratic Party or the incoming administration will remember that and they will hold it against you.
James Troupis: (03:31:49)
That’s a sad state of affairs. As a former judge, I was so incensed by that that I took the representation. That was the ultimate reason I took that representation. And I’ve heard a lot today about what went on afterwards as if these latest threats are coming from the right. Remember why and how this started after the election. We need to have faith in our court system. We have to acknowledge that the court system has been deeply intimidated by the left, just as the lawyers have been intimidated. And that is a sad, sad state of affairs. And I so much appreciate, senator, that you’re holding these hearings because otherwise, as we’re finding out all over the country, these items just disappear. Number two, I wanted to say as I’ve said throughout my testimony that one of the reasons people are doubting the election is because the other side here, the Biden campaign’s primary defense is, don’t hear the evidence, don’t let them litigate, don’t have a court rule on the substance.
James Troupis: (03:33:09)
Let’s be honest, that’s what’s going on. And so that’s why the public doesn’t trust this outcome. It’s not about the president, it’s about what the other side is doing to intimidate and force people not to listen, not to take the evidence. I’ve heard lots of fancy words here today, but if you give transparency, if you let the issues come out, and I’ve represented Republicans and I’ve represented Democrats, and at the end of the day, lawyers do their job when it is at the open and we are able to present the evidence, and I so appreciate the fact that you, a non-lawyer, is taking on this task here. But finally, I have to say this, we had 4, 000 people volunteer from everywhere in the country to come to Wisconsin to participate in the process.
James Troupis: (03:34:08)
We had over 2,500 volunteers over a 10 day period take their own time, their own money, come from all over the country and they came and they attended the recount and they participated. And I said to the recount on the floor, the Democrats and the Republicans, I said, “If you are losing your faith in the greatness of this republic, look at this recount, look at the number of people from the Trump campaign and from the Biden campaign that would give of their time and effort to be here.” In that case, in Madison, Wisconsin. It was humbling, truly humbling for me and everyone on our legal team and everyone who was there. We have a great system and people want to participate. Let’s make it transparent. And again, I can’t thank those volunteers enough. They’re the ones who make this democracy work.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:35:07)
Thank you, Mr. Troupis. And I noticed Mr. Binnall shaking his head when you’re talking about the fact that lawyers from large law firms were more than discouraged. They’re actually prevented from representing the president, which is kind of a sad state of affairs. I’ll also say storefronts in big cities didn’t board up their windows in anticipation of a Vice-president Biden victory. Commissioner Palmer.
Donald Palmer: (03:35:38)
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I will make a few comments. The UAC is looking at holding series of hearings and issue a report on some non-partisan recommendations. There’s going to be a lot of policy disputes around the country and state legislatures. And that can be debated back and forth about what the best policies on certain areas, but we as the election administration community want to do better. We understand that oftentimes there are flaws in the way we administer elections. It happens in every election, we can always do better. The way we respond in election administration community, just like the military, is more education and more training and more resources when available. And that is really the recipe I believe moving forward is if you want to improve the performance of election officials and the election workers within an office and our poll workers, it will take a commitment of time, resources and training to do so, and the EAC is prepared to do that free to localities with appropriate funding.
Donald Palmer: (03:36:46)
I think that that is really my solution. Thinking back to my military days, whenever there was an issue, more education and more funding, more training.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:36:59)
Thank you, Commissioner Palmer. Judge Starr, you are [inaudible 00:25:02], now you’re banning cleanup here, so thank you for hanging in there. Do you have some closing comments?
Judge Starr: (03:37:08)
I think the bottom of the order, Mr. Chairman, but thank you. Thank you for your leadership. In a real sense, today’s hearing has been attributed to the constitution. I love Senator Carper’s comments about December 7, 1787, and the idea to form a more perfect union, and this hearing has been in that spirit. I’m also reminded of one of President Lyndon Johnson’s favorite quotes from the prophet Isaiah, come let us reason together. I think this has been a time of reasoning together and listening and the great traditions of the United States Senate. So let me close with words that I heard with my own ears from United States Senator Alan Simpson, now at the tender age of 89 in retirement, and what he was addressing in his valedictory at the Kennedy Institute of Politics, which he headed for two years, he told the audience and it was in very hush tones, whatever your politics were, Alan Simpson was a great man and recognized to be that. And he closed with these words, “In politics, if you don’t have integrity, you don’t have anything.”
Judge Starr: (03:38:18)
And what this hearing is trying to do is how can we in fact promote not just confidence in government, but how can we in fact promote the integrity and honesty, which is at the bedrock of the kind of government in who we can trust? So thank you for the honor of appearing before the committee.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:38:37)
Well, thank you, Judge Starr for your participation, for your service to this country. I do want to make a comment. We spoke to, and we’re very appreciative of the fact that Dominion Systems, Edison Research, AP, a number of people we spoke to prior to this hearing, now they didn’t all participate, but we will leave the record open and I encourage everybody we spoke to and people that we didn’t, if you want to input information into this record, you’ve got a couple of weeks to do it, and I encourage it. And our staff will look at that and we will vet it. We’ll call you, we’ll ask questions. This hearing is not dangerous. What would be dangerous is not discussing this openly and frankly, with transparency. This is a problem that we have to acknowledge and recognize and solve together. And we’re only going to do that with information.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:39:34)
So I’m soliciting information, okay? This is only part of the process. There was oversight before this hearing, there needs to be oversight after this in the next Congress. Hopefully, I can work with Senator Carper, who I think we all recognize has done a pretty good job of outreach here and some pretty bipartisan words here. So I’m hoping that’s how we can move forward, because I truly think as Americans, we share the same goal. We all want a safe, prosperous, secure country, state, community. That’s what we want. We want to be able to raise our children in safety and freedom. And the way it works in this country is through participation in the democratic process. So I think everybody in this panel wants to make sure that we have good participation. We encourage citizens to participate. We also want every legitimate vote to count, but we should be every bit in favor of making sure that every vote is legitimate.
Chairman Ron Johnson: (03:40:46)
And that’s what this is all about. If we can put the controls in place and actually act on them, it’s great having paper ballots, but you have to have access to look at it to give yourself confidence in the current election and moving forward that, okay, this all worked out. Wisconsin’s recount, totally honest, our count was almost 100% accurate. Other issues, but again, I think Wisconsin, we’ve got a pretty good level of confidence that we run our elections right. Now, I’ll just give another shout out to Jeannette Merten. My clerk of courts in the town of Oshkosh, and I’m sure the vast majority are just like Jeannette, we’re in really good hands. So to conclude, this is my last hearing. It has been an honor and privilege to chair this committee. Hearing is adjourned.