Russians targeted 21 election systems, USA official says

Cheryl Sanders
June 24, 2017

Trump's tweet came a day after Jeh Johnson, who served as secretary of homeland security under President Barack Obama, testified that Russian President Vladimir Putin had directed officials to interfere in the USA election.

Jeh Johnson, who led the Homeland Security Department until the end of the Obama administration, also told a separate panel - the House Intelligence Committee - that the department's warnings at the time went unnoticed due to the emergence of a 2005 tape, in which Trump brags about sexually assaulting women.

In prepared testimony, Johnson described the steps he took once he learned of the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, his fears about a cyberattack on the election itself and his rationale for designating USA election systems, including polling places and voter registration databases, as critical infrastructure in early January - two weeks before President Donald Trump's inauguration. "Why didn't they stop them?"

"Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks (long prior to election)", he wrote.

He followed up by calling the assessment that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election "a big Dem HOAX!" even though it has the backing of the major USA intelligence agencies, politicians on both sides of the aisle, and members of Trump's administration. "At no point during my tenure at the DNC was I contacted by the FBI, DHS or any government agency, or alerted or made aware that they believed that the Russians, an enemy state, was intruding on our network". "It's all a big Dem scam and excuse for losing the election!"

White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to answer a question this week about whether Trump believes that Russian Federation meddled in the election.

US intelligence agencies concluded that the Kremlin orchestrated a wide-ranging influence operation that included email hacking and online propaganda in order to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, a Republican, win the White House. "From whom? And with what level of knowledge?" said Michael Bahar, the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee. But the testimony does give a better idea of the scope of the election interference.

Last month, Mr Trump fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, who was leading the agency's Russian Federation probe. But Johnson didn't say that Wednesday.

According to Johnson, he was "very concerned" about signs of Russian meddling as early as the late summer.

"The analogy that I used as a corporate lawyer, if I'm issuing a public stock and I know there's a very powerful actor out there manipulating the price of that public stock, I have an obligation to tell the investing public", Johnson said.

"For Jeh Johnson to say the Russians had successfully done something, he had to say he failed as Homeland Security chief", he said.

"One of the candidates, as you recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged in some way", Johnson continued, referring to Donald Trump's campaign claims.

Time Magazine reported that a Russian cyber attack in more than 20 states is worse than initially thought.

"We did not have any attempts to access our system", said Bryan Dean, spokesman for the Oklahoma State Election Board.

Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Russian hackers "hit" systems in 39 states, and the Intercept, citing a classified intelligence document, reported that Russian military intelligence "executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November's presidential election".

Other reports by iNewsToday