“The Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots, ballot counts or reporting of election results.”
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee over the Russia probe into possible interference and collusion into our presidential election.
Last summer, the Democrats accused the Russians of hacking into their system after a trove of emails appeared on Wikileaks. But Johnson told the committee that the DNC didn’t want DHS’s help with the investigation.
DNC Email Leaks
Instead of accepting help from DHS, the DNC decided to hire a private cybersecurity firm.
From The Washington Examiner:
“This was a question I asked repeatedly when I learned of [the hacking]—what are we doing? Are we in there? Are we helping them discover the vulnerabilities, because this was fresh off the OPM experience and there was a point at which DHS cybersecurity experts did get in to OPM and help them discover the bad actors and patch some of the exfiltrations, or at least minimize some of the damage,” Johnson said referencing the hack at the Office of Personnel Management.
“I was anxious to know whether our folks were in there, and the response I got was the FBI had spoken to them. They don’t want our help. They have CrowdStrike,” he said. “That was the answer I got after I asked the question a number of times over the progression of time.”
The DNC’s decision disappointed Johnson, who said that he “shouldn’t camped out” at its headquarters.
But DHS can only do so much. Johnson reminded the committee that the “department doesn’t have the power to patch vulnerabilities over the DNC’s objections.”
Johnson also showed disappointment when he discovered that there was a long gap between the hacking and the time his department found out. From The Washington Times:
Mr. Johnson added speculation to the ongoing scrutiny of fired FBI Director James B. Comey when he questioned the time delay between when the DNC and FBI first discussed Russian hacking — and when his department finally learned of the breach.
“The FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other months before about the intrusion,” he said.
No Votes Altered
Johnson reiterated to the committee that Russia did not touch any votes during the election despite trying to influence the election outcome. However, he could not confirm if the emails leaks actually did sway public opinion from Hillary Clinton to Trump.
From Fox News:
He also confirmed that while Russia, 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.
“To my current knowledge, the Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots, ballot counts or reporting of election results,” Johnson said during his opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee.
Johnson fretted over the possibility it could happen and tried to warn everyone about possible cyberattacks. But Johnson and the DHS could not get anyone to pay attention since “the press and voters were focused on a lot of other things” last year.
He tried to protect the voting systems as early as January 2016. From The Washington Examiner:
Johnson also spoke on his decision in January 2016 to designate election infrastructure as a subsector of critical infrastructure, which made election infrastructure a priority for cybersecurity assistance and protections. That decision received some pushback from people who were concerned about a federal take over of elections, which are traditionally run by states.
“Critical infrastructure receives a priority in terms of the assistance we give on cybersecurity. There’s a certain level of confidentiality that goes into the communications between critical infrastructure and that department that are guaranteed.
He added, “When you’re part of critical infrastructure, you get the protection of the international cyber norms—that thou shall not attack the critical infrastructure of another country.”
“Those were the principal reasons for doing this. There are 16 sectors already that are considered critical infrastructure, and in my view, this is one thing that was sort of a no brainer. In fact, it probably should’ve been done years before.”
The email leaks over the summer made Johnson revisit his idea from January. Fox News continued:
In August, he said he “floated the idea” of designating the country’s election infrastructure as critical – which would allow election officials to get cybersecurity help. Johnson testified that multiple secretaries of states turned down his offer and viewed any aid as the federal government trying to Big Brother the election.
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