WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSNewYork) — Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is on the hot seat Wednesday after testifying on Capitol Hill that Russia did indeed interfere in last year’s presidential election, but that it didn’t change any votes.
Johnson called the Russians’ efforts to meddle in our elections “unprecedented,” but testified that Vladimir Putin’s cyber attacks did not reach the voting booth.
“I know of no evidence that, through cyber intrusion, votes were altered or suppressed in some way,” the former Obama administration official said under oath as members of congress on both sides of the aisle grilled him about the president’s response, and the months-long delay in telling the American people what was going on last year.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-C.A.) demanded to know why the administration waited until October to make their findings known.
“There was an ongoing election and many would criticize us for perhaps taking sides,” Johnson said. “So that had to be considered. One of the candidates, as you recall, was predicting the election was going to be rigged in some way.”
Johnson said they also had to consider the implications of declassifying such sensitive information.
Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King pressed him on the Russian hack into the Democratic National Committee. Johnson testified that he was not pleased the DNC would not let them help.
“I was anxious to know if our folks were in there and the response I got was the FBI had spoken to them,” he said. “They don’t want our help. They have Crowd Strike, the cyber security firm.”
King replied that he found the explanation “hard to believe.”
Meanwhile — across the Capitol — senators pressed homeland security officials to give more information on the states the Russians hit.
“I prefer not go go into those details in this forum,” Jeanette Manfra from the Department of Homeland Security said. “I can tell you that we are tracking 21 states that were targets.”
Manfra acknowledged that the states which had their data ex-filtrated were aware of what happened.
Also Wednesday, Russia cancelled scheduled talks with a top United States diplomat aimed at improving relations. This comes after the U.S. Treasury Department tightened sanctions against Russia because of its continued occupation of Crimea.
President Trump made a quick trip to Iowa on Wednesday night, where he spoke to a crowd of supporters but made no mention of Johnson’s testimony.