Justice and Homeland Security report finds no foreign interference in 2018 elections

By Emily Tillett

/ CBS News

There is no evidence to date of any foreign interference in the 2018 midterm elections, according to a new joint report released by the Justice and Homeland Security Departments on Tuesday. While specific conclusions remain classified, the report found that no "identified activities of a foreign government or foreign agent had a material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political/campaign infrastructure."

The federal government worked with state and local officials in all 50 states and in more than 1,400 local jurisdictions "to support efforts to secure election infrastructure and limit risk posed by foreign interference." This was a priority after the Russian government's widespread influence efforts in the 2016 presidential election.

The Russian government, operating through the Internet Research Agency (IRA), managed to reach millions of users across social media platforms, sowing dissension and spreading disinformation. Those efforts, experts warn, are likely to pick up again.

The intelligence community recently concluded that foreign actors are still focused on targeting U.S. election systems.

"Our adversaries and strategic competitors probably already are looking to the 2020 U.S. elections as an opportunity to advance their interests," a recent threat assessment compiled by the intelligence community said. "We expect our adversaries and strategic competitors to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other's experiences, suggesting the threat landscape could look very different in 2020 and future elections."

A report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence late last year said the intelligence community had also assessed that Russia, China and Iran all sought to influence American voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, but U.S. voting systems and voters were ultimately not compromised.

The Justice Department says that efforts to safeguard the 2020 elections are "already underway. "

First published on February 5, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Emily Tillett

Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital

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