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Russian hackers targeted election systems in 21 states: DHS

The former DHS secretary could not confirm a report that 39 states were affected by Russian intrusions, a count much higher than previously realized.It’s been said many times, but witnesses reiterated they have no doubt that Russian Federation itself was behind efforts to intervene in the USA election and were also very confident that no votes were changed in the process. Here’s FBI Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Division, Bill Priestap.Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told a House panel Wednesday that Russian hackers did not change any votes cast in the 2016 US presidential election.While Johnson testified there was no direct interference by Russian Federation in the 2016 voting, he said the United States “can and should do” more to protect its election systems from cyberattacks. “But, I have no doubt that it will continue”, he said.West Virginia Democrat Sen.Jeh Johnson, who was US secretary of Homeland Security during the November election, testified.Johnson’s testimony said that Russians targeted 21 states during the election with the goal of influencing the election.According to Department of Homeland Security officials, Russian hackers probed election-related systems in 21 different states in the run-up to the 2016 election.Johnson described his discussions with state election officials about ensuring the integrity of the voting process. I would just say, maybe it’s editorializing my part, it’s an unusual response of the DNC.Specifically, Donald Trump’s public accusations that the election was being “rigged” against him hindered Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation from speaking out sooner, Johnson said. “We believe it is important to protect the confidentiality we have and the trust we have with that community, so when an entity is a victim of a cyber incident, we believe very strongly in protecting the information around that victim”, she said. Applying the critical infrastructure designation amid the contentious campaign would have been “counterproductive”, Johnson said.Mr. Secretary, in the late summer of previous year, it became apparent that the Russians were doing more than gathering foreign intelligence, that they were in fact, dumping it in a way created to potentially influence outcomes – not by affecting the vote machines necessarily, but by affecting American public opinion with the dumping of these emails. According to Johnson’s testimony, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had provided states with the IP addresses associated with the hacking attempts.”I recall very clearly that I was not pleased that we were not in there helping them patch this vulnerability”, he said.If two almost simultaneous hearings Wednesday by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election revealed anything, it’s that US officials saw what was going on but were all but powerless to stop it.Johnson, who served as the Homeland Security chief from December 2013 to January 2017 under President Barack Obama, reiterated that conclusion on Wednesday.Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, met on Wednesday with senior Senate Judiciary Committee members to ensure there was no conflict between his investigation of potential collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign and the panel’s probe of what led to Trump firing Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey.USA 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 Mr Trump win the White House.”I don’t blame you for not answering that question”, Heinrich said, prompting laughter from the room.Trump has called the Russian Federation probe a “witch hunt” on multiple occasions, but Robert Mueller continues to lead an investigation into whether or not Trump’s campaign interfered with the election.In response to revelations about Russia’s attempts to hack into state and local elections systems past year, U.S. Sen.The intelligence community concluded in January that Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a “multi-faceted” campaign to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process”. The report said Russian intelligence services had “obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple USA state or local electoral boards”.Johnson testified that throughout the early fall, he had offered cybersecurity support to state election officials, but some ignored the DHS’ warnings.