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Ex-DHS secretary: Putin personally ordered hacking efforts

Andrew Harnik / AP

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday that there is no doubt Vladimir Putin ordered his government to hack the U.S. November election:

"In 2016 the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyber attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election. That is a fact, plain and simple. Now, the key question for the president and congress is: What are we going to do to protect the American people and their democracy from this kind of thing in the future?"

Highlights:

  • Impact on outcome of election: "I know of no evidence that through cyber-intrusions, votes were altered or suppressed in some way."
  • Why didn't you reveal the interference? "One of the candidates, as you recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged," said Johnson, adding that DHS didn't want to inject themselves "into a very heated campaign."
  • Why didn't it make headlines then? Johnson said the news didn't get the attention it deserved last fall because Trump's Access Hollywood tape overshadowed it.
  • Any evidence of Trump campaign collusion? "Not beyond what has been out there, open-sourced, and not beyond anything this committee hasn't seen before."
  • Unprecedented: "The scope of this effort [by Russia] was unprecedented... In retrospect, it would be easy for me to say that I should have bought a sleeping bag and camped out in front of the DNC in late summer."
  • DNC could have done more to stop hack: Johnson said the DNC wasn't interested in help from DHS. "I recall very clearly that I was not pleased that we were not in there helping them patch this vulnerability."
  • Looking forward: Johnson urged Sec. Kelly to make cybersecurity a top priority. "It's going to worse before it gets better."