The Republican committee in charge of congressional races on Friday dismissed a call from the Democratic side to work together to stop Russia's meddling in the 2018 midterm elections as a public relations stunt.
"This letter was delivered by an intern and immediately leaked to the press to generate attention around a cheap political stunt," National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Jesse Hunt said in an email to the Washington Examiner. He was replying to a Thursday letter from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that asked the NRCC to work together to thwart Russia.
"Of course, cybersecurity is a high priority for us and has been for some time now," Hunt said. "Unfortunately, the DCCC made it clear they're more interested in trying to score political points than [in] actually thwarting interference."
The letter from DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan was leaked to the Washington Post on Thursday.
NRCC Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, and Lujan, D-N.M., met earlier this week, according to an NRCC official said, but neither the idea of partnering to protect against future Russian interference nor the letter came up during the meeting. The official questioned why the letter wasn't raised if the DCCC's effort was a serious one.
In his letter to Stivers, Lujan asked the NRCC to pledge it wouldn't use any documents or information obtained by Russian hackers against Democratic candidates in future contests. Lujan also asked Stivers to work with the Democrats to form a "united front against foreign governments" and urged both parties to collaborate with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to protect future elections from Russian interference.
The NRCC official said the Republican campaign committee was internally discussing a partnership with the Democrats on cybersecurity because the issue is nonpartisan, but said the leaking of the letter to the media showed the NRCC that its Democratic counterpart couldn't be trusted.
The NRCC official said any DCCC partnership on cybersecurity, for the time being, is off the table.
A spokesman for the DCCC criticized the Republicans' response to its letter.
"This is a disturbingly flippant response to a simple request that we set partisan politics aside and work together to better protect our elections from foreign adversaries and their cyberattacks," Meredith Kelly, DCCC communications director, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.