Jeh Johnson: DNC did not want DHS help following election hack

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday the Democratic National Committee “did not feel it needed” assistance from the Department of Homeland Security following last year’s election hack, which U.S. officials have since attributed to Russia.

“Sometime in 2016 I came to be alert to a hack into systems on the Democratic National Committee,” Johnson said in prepared testimony towards the House Intelligence Committee. “I pressed my staff to learn whether DHS was sufficiently proactive, and also on the scene improving the DNC identify the intruders and patch vulnerabilities. The right formula, into the best of my recollection, hasn’t been reassuring.

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“The FBI additionally, the DNC has been hold of the other months before about the intrusion,” he continued, “and the DNC couldn’t feel it needed DHS’s assistance in those days.”

Johnson’s testimony belongs to your home Intelligence panel’s investigation into Russian meddling inside presidential election, that is certainly looking into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

U.S. officials believe Russia later provided the info stolen in the DNC, possibly using intermediaries, to WikiLeaks as part of the Kremlin’s larger effort to break Hillary Clinton and help elect Trump.

In an argument Wednesday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who chaired the DNC until July of not too long ago, said no government agency contacted her around the Russian hack into the organization’s network.

“It is astounding to me that the Chair of the organization just like the DNC was not ever contacted by way of the FBI or other agency interested in these intrusions,” she said inside a statement. “As part of Congress, I’d the clearance to listen for any classified briefing that will be involved in this intrusion, as well as the FBI clearly ought to have come to me your information. They did not.”

She added that in case the FBI or other agency had contacted her, she “would have gladly welcomed their help.”

During Wednesday’s hearing, Johnson faced questions with the intelligence panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, over why the National government waited until October to inform the populace about Russia’s cyber campaign.

“This would be a big decision, where there were many considerations that entered it,” Johnson responded. “This was an unprecedented step.”

He said the administration was concerned with being criticized for wanting to influence the election, especially provided that Trump was calling the election process “rigged.”

He also noted anytime the administration finally did elect to issue its statement regarding the hacking – on Oct. 7 – that it got overshadowed because that’s within 24 hours the news broke from the “Access Hollywood” video from 11 years earlier by which Trump bragged about groping women.

Schiff then asked why The president wouldn’t do more to attract focus to the condition of Russia’s cyber campaign.

“You shouldn’t view the Oct. 7 statement in isolation,” Johnson responded. "This was a ongoing effort to see everyone."

In his prepared remarks, Johnson chronicles his seek to sound the alarm about Russia’s cyber campaign – just to face political obstacles. As an illustration, he stated he needed to declare the nation’s election infrastructure for being "critical infrastructure," that would have created it a top priority for receipt of DHS services and ensured it received "the advantages of various domestic and international cybersecurity protections."

“To my disappointment,” he was quoted saying, “the solution to an important infrastructure designation, not less than from individuals that spoke up, ranged from neutral to negative. Those that expressed negative views stated that running elections in such a country was the sovereign and exclusive responsibility from the states, and they could not want federal intrusion, a federal takeover, or federal regulating that process. That was a serious misunderstanding of the things a major infrastructure designation means, that i attempt to clarify on their behalf.”

The idea, he was quoted saying, was shelved until as soon as the election. In January, DHS made the designation of election infrastructure as critical infrastructure – and his successor, John Kelly, has reaffirmed that designation.

Johnson added that to his knowledge, Russia’s cyber attacks could not contribute to any actual votes being tampered with or changed.

“I am not in the position to know whether or not the successful Russian government-directed hacks of your DNC and elsewhere did the fact is alter public opinion and thereby modify the results the presidential election,” he explained.