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Jeh Johnson Says He Was Unaware of FBI Russia Probe

Image: Jeh Johnson Says He Was Unaware of FBI Russia Probe
Jeh Johnson (AP)

Wednesday, 21 Jun 2017 11:56 AM

Jeh Johnson, the former Homeland Security chief, says he wasn't aware that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, asked Johnson if former FBI Director Jim Comey would have opened such an inquiry without any evidence for doing so.

Johnson says Comey would not have made such a move lightly.

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy had earlier asked Johnson pointedly whether he knew of any evidence of possible collusion by the Trump campaign. Johnson says he not aware of any information beyond what's been reported publicly and what the U.S. intelligence community has gathered.

Earlier Johnson said he was not happy that he learned well after the fact that the Democratic National Committee's computer systems had been hacked.

Johnson, who served in the post until January, says he became aware of the compromise "sometime in 2016." He says he pressed his staff to know whether the Department of Homeland Security "was sufficiently proactive, and on the scene helping the DNC identify the intruders and patch vulnerabilities."

But he says the answer wasn't reassuring. Says Johnson: "The FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other months before about the intrusion, and the DNC did not feel it needed" Homeland Security's assistance at that time.

Johnson said it would have been "unforgiveable" not to alert the American public ahead of the 2016 election that the Russians hacked Democratic email systems.

Johnson is testifying before the House intelligence committee.

Johnson says a lot of internal discussion and consideration preceded an October statement about the hacking from his department and the director of national intelligence. He says they didn't want to compromise sources and methods of intelligence collection.

He also says one of the presidential candidates was claiming the election was rigged. That was Donald Trump, although Johnson didn't name him.

Johnson says, "A statement might be seen as challenging the integrity of the process itself."

Johnson says his concerns about a cyberattack against U.S. election systems grew during the summer of 2016.

Johnson told the committee that his department developed a plan to offer cybersecurity assistance to state election officials.

In early August 2016, he says he even "floated the idea" of designating American election infrastructure as critical. That would mean election officials would get, on a priority basis, cybersecurity help.

But Johnson says secretaries of state and other chief election officials spurned his offer. They considered running elections "a sovereign and exclusive responsibility of the states" and viewed his proposal as a federal takeover.

Johnson says he moved to designate U.S. elections as critical infrastructure on the same day as the release of a declassified U.S. intelligence report that said Russian President Vladimir Putin "ordered" an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
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Jeh Johnson, the former Homeland Security chief, says he wasn't aware that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials....
US, Congress, Russia, Probe
477
2017-56-21
Wednesday, 21 Jun 2017 11:56 AM
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