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Florida Senator Bill Nelson is in a tough fight for reelection against incumbent governor Rick Scott. A few days ago, for reasons that aren’t all that clear, Nelson claimed that the Godless Russkies had penetrated the Florida election system and were plundering about unimpeded. The implication was clearly that they were going to steal the election in favor of the well known Russian stooge opposing him.
Russian operatives have “penetrated” some of Florida’s voter registration systems ahead of the 2018 midterms, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday, adding new urgency to concerns about hacking.
The state, however, said it has received “zero information” supporting his claim.
“They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about,” Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times before a campaign event in Tampa. He said something similar a day earlier in Tallahassee but declined to elaborate.
“That’s classified,” the Democrat said Tuesday.
When anyone makes a claim and their proof is “its classified,” they are lying to you.
Anyway, a lot of people called foul. Rick Scott and the Florida Secretary of State, Ken Detzner, demanded that Nelson present some clue that would allow them to stop the problem. Homeland Security said this was news to them. And a week later, Nelson was caught on video essentially saying that he’d made it all up.
BREAKING: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) admits in secret recording that he fabricated claim, which broke headlines, that Russians penetrated Florida election systems in 2018 pic.twitter.com/h7aNZOUBxS
— Wired Sources (@WiredSources) August 15, 2018
Earlier today, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, said:
Nelson and Rubio warned Florida election officials to be on high alert for Russian cyber-intrusions. We take no issue with their July 2 letter.
Nelson, however, went on to make a specific and alarming claim several times: that Russia currently has access to Florida’s election systems and could purge voters from the rolls. Not a single speck of evidence backs him up, and we have serious doubts whether the classified information he cited even exists.
In his letter to Burr, Florida’s top election official said the state asked DHS and the FBI whether Russia had access to Florida’s election systems and was told “they have no information that corroborates Senator Nelson’s statement.” Burr replied that “any briefings or notifications about ongoing threats would, rightfully, come from those agencies,” meaning DHS and the FBI. Reading between the lines, Burr seems to be contradicting Nelson’s claim.
He wouldn’t be the only one. DHS contradicted Nelson’s claim. Wray’s comments from Aug. 2 contradict Nelson’s claim. Local election officials in Florida contradict Nelson’s claim. Neither Rubio nor Warner confirmed what he said.
Making matters worse, Nelson misquoted his own letter from July 2 several times (it made no mention of an ongoing breach) and inaccurately said Burr, Rubio and Warner reaffirmed his assertion that Russia has access to Florida voters’ records.
And they awarded him the coveted Four Pinocchio Award for Most Egregious Lie Told In Pursuit of Reelection.
Now comes Fusion GPS’s little boy at NBC, Ken Dilanian: Bill Nelson wasn’t making things up when he said Russians hacked Florida election systems.
The Republican governor of Florida, who happens to be running against Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat this fall, has blasted his claim as irresponsible. The top Florida elections official, also a Republican, said he had seen no indication it’s true. And the Washington Post weighed in Friday with a 2,717-word fact check that all but accused Nelson — without evidence — of making it up.
However, three people familiar with the intelligence tell NBC News that there is a classified basis for Nelson’s assertion, which he made at a public event after being given information from the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The extent and seriousness of the threat remains unclear, shrouded for reasons of national security.
What is that proof?
NBC’s sources declined to provide the exact details of what Nelson was attempting to describe, because they remain classified.
This is patent nonsense. In this environment, no one in DHS or the FBI is going to soft-sell mucking around with election systems, particularly those in a swing state like Florida. More to the point, Bill Nelson, himself, points to previous warnings as his source, not some super secret special sauce intelligence that only he has.
This is just a Democrat operative trying to help out a Democrat politician and he’s perfectly willing to push unproven and unprovable stories in service of that cause. Anytime these people try to tell you they don’t have a dog in the fight, just laugh in their face.