Congress hears sinister tale of Russian Federation election meddling

Lawson also told the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday that the government is not sharing classified details about the breach with state officials.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the Russian government at President Vladimir Putin's direction clearly conducted cyberattacks on the United States to influence the presidential election, but the assault did not change ballots, the final count or the reporting of election results.

Johnson, now a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in NY, at Wednesday's hearing described his experience in uncovering Russia's efforts to undermine the 2016 US election.

Johnson, who served under President Barack Obama, was testifying about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson House testified on the committee Tuesday that Russia's interference was "unprecedented, the scale and the scope of what we saw them doing".

Johnson says 33 states and 36 cities and counties used his department's tools to scan for potential vulnerabilities. He said DHS does not engage in vote recounts and there are others who have that responsibility.

"I pressed my staff to know whether DHS was sufficiently proactive, and on the scene helping the DNC identify the intruders and patch vulnerabilities", Johnson said in a written statement submitted to the House committee ahead of his testimony.

Johnson explained that one of the candidates, President Trump, was claiming that the election would be "rigged" and that by accusing Russian Federation of being responsible for the cyber intrusions would undermine the integrity of the process. "I am not in a position to know whether the successful Russian government-directed hacks of the DNC and elsewhere did in fact alter public opinion and thereby alter the outcome of the presidential election".

Johnson was homeland security chief for the Democratic president from December 2013 to January 2017.

The testimony came during a morning of double-barreled intelligence committee hearings - one in the House and one in the Senate - that underscored the USA intelligence community's months-old determination that Russian Federation attempted to meddle in the election. Trump has repeatedly called the Russian Federation investigation a "witch hunt" and "fake news" and attacked the credibility of career law enforcement officials overseeing the investigation.

Manfra said that all "system owners" in those states had been contacted about the incidents, but that may not invlude state election officials.

But the response was so negative, Johnson said, that he put the idea on the back burner and encouraged state officials to simply ask the DHS for help if they needed it.

"Looking at the intelligence, it was a pretty clear case, perhaps beyond a reasonable doubt.that the Russian government was behind the hacks into the DNC", Johnson said.

Officials in Arizona and IL had previously confirmed that hackers targeted their voter registration system.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr announced the panel will bring in the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a classified briefing on open and new inquiries regarding Russian Federation, and reiterated the need for the public to know more about what happened ahead of upcoming elections.

Johnson reiterated that he and Clapper did make a statement and adds, "We were very concerned that we not be perceived as taking sides in the election, injecting ourself into a very heated campaign or taking steps to themselves delegitimize the election process".

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday refused to say whether Mr Trump believes Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election.

He also confirmed that while Russian Federation, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, orchestrated cyberattacks on the United States to influence the 2016 presidential election, Moscow was unable to actually alter ballots.

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  • Julie Sanders