Trump Administration Says No Evidence for Florida Senator’s Claim

(Bloomberg) -- Florida Senator Bill Nelson’s claim that Russian hackers infiltrated his state’s election systems can’t be substantiated, top federal law enforcement officials told Florida’s secretary of state.

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said they “have not seen new or ongoing compromises of state or local election infrastructure in Florida” in a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner that was released by the Florida State Department’s press office on Tuesday.

The letter added that “Russian government actors have previously demonstrated both the intent and capability to conduct malicious cyber operations.”

Nelson told the The Tampa Bay Times earlier this month that Russian operatives had “already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about.” His comment caused confusion among county election supervisors. Governor Rick Scott, Nelson’s Republican opponent in the upcoming midterm elections, publicly called on the senator to explain his claim.

Nelson hasn’t said where he got the information or otherwise elaborated. NBC News reported Aug. 17 that there was a classified basis for Nelson’s assertion, citing three people familiar with the matter who declined to provide details.

“In my opinion, there’s nothing in this letter that contradicts what Senator Nelson said he was told a few months ago, and what he and Sen. Rubio have tried to warn about in order to guard against Russian meddling in our elections” Ryan Brown, a Nelson spokesman, said in an email, referring to Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican.

“The governor of Florida has a security clearance and could have quickly and directly received information, answers and posed any questions instead of engaging in these confusing and partisan histrionics of the past week,” Brown said.

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