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WASHINGTON — Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is pushing a bipartisan election security in Congress meant to harden defenses against interference, said Sunday that she fears the 2018 midterm elections are still vulnerable to hacking.
"I'm very concerned that you could have a hack that finally went through. You have 21 states that were hacked into, they didn't find out about it for a year," she said in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press.
"That's one of the reasons that we want to pass our bill, so that there's now a requirement that they tell the individual secretary of states immediately so they can protect themselves."
Klobuchar, a former local prosecutor, expressed frustration with President Donald Trump's rhetoric surrounding Russia's interference in the last presidential election. But she said she was encouraged by comments made by top administration security officials during a briefing this week, noting that there "are some very good people" working to prevent future attacks.
But, "you've got the president undermining this on national TV still," she said.
After his administration officials "go in front of the world and say this is happening, he says that night at a rally in Pennsylvania that it's a hoax. That concerns me."
The White House has sent conflicting signals over its views on Russian election interference and about its posture toward any future threat to the midterm elections.
Last month, Trump was forced to clarify his own muddled message on whether he believed Russia was behind the hacks during the 2016 elections. During a White House meeting shortly after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said he has faith in the intelligence community's finding that points the finger at Russia for the hacks.
In an attempt to show the administration is serious about combating future attacks on America's elections, the White House this week dispatched top security officials to the briefing room Thursday in what was meant to be a show of force to deter future interference.
"The reality is it's going to take all of us working together to hold the field because this threat is not going away," FBI Director Christopher Wray told reporters.
Yet, Trump has continued to take aim at the special counsel's investigation into the hacks. This week, he called on his Attorney General to 'stop" the "hoax" that is the special counsel's probe, and tweeted Sunday morning lambasting the investigation as "the most one sided Witch Hunt in the history of our country."
Klobuchar framed her bipartisan bill, which would take steps to improve information sharing and provide for grants to help localities upgrade their election system, as one important way to address the nation's election security needs.
Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed the importance of protecting the "confidence" the American people have in the election results in an interview on Meet the Press.
But when pressed about the Senate's decision to vote down a measure that would have provided an additional $250 million in election-security grants, Blunt called for "more specified" spending instead of blanket grants.
"I don't want this to become an annual entitlement," Blunt said.
"The worst possible kind of funding is distant money and local decision-making on how to spend it," he said. "The central thread of the fabric of democracy is people having confidence that what happened on election day is what actually happened."