Ex-Obama homeland security chief to face intelligence panel

Jeh Johnson, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, testified before the House intelligence committee about Russian interference in the USA presidential election.None of those systems were involved in vote counting, however.The Senate Committee, conducting its own Russian Federation investigation, held a similar hearing with DHS and FBI officials on the other side of the Capitol on Wednesday.Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King pressed him on the Russian hack into the Democratic National Committee.He told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that Russian Federation also “pushed fake news and propaganda” to sow discord and undermine the key democratic principle of free and fair elections. Mark Warner announced the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation have confirmed two intrusions into voter registration databases in Arizona and IL by foreign-based hackers. Manfra said that all “system owners” in those states had been contacted about the incidents, but that may not invlude state election officials.”The priority of informing the American public did override all of those other considerations, which is why we did what we did”, Johnson said.Mr. Johnson added speculation to the ongoing scrutiny of fired FBI Director James B. Comey when he questioned the time delay between when the DNC and FBI first discussed Russian hacking – and when his department finally learned of the breach.But Johnson tells the House Intelligence committee that he doesn’t know whether the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails and other Moscow-directed interference “did in fact alter public opinion, and thereby alter the outcome of the presidential election”. But Johnson told the committee that the DNC didn’t want DHS’s help with the investigation.SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hindsight was a common theme as Johnson testified.”One of the candidates, as you’ll recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged in some way”. Arizona and IL a year ago confirmed that hackers had targeted their voter registration systems.”When an entity is the victim of a cyber incident, we believe very strongly in protecting the information around that victim”, said DHS Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Cybersecurity Jeanette Manfra. He says it’s not acceptable for the government to keep the full scope of the attacks secret.Jeh Johnson, the former secretary of homeland security, says his concerns about a cyberattack against US election systems grew during the summer of 2016.But Johnson says secretaries of state and other chief election officials spurned his offer.Johnson told the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that his department developed a plan to offer cybersecurity assistance to state election officials.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.Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is testifying at a House intelligence committee hearing as the panel presses ahead with its investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.The former secretary outlined a timeline of steps he took to alert election officials of a threat, saying that state-level officials were notified in August and that public statements were made that month, as well as in September, and twice in October.Due to states’ reaction, Johnson initially let the idea go and instead tried to urge states to voluntarily accept DHS help to shore up their systems; the critical infrastructure designations were eventually ordered by Johnson in January and continued by current DHS Secretary John Kelly. The move was aimed at providing more federal cybersecurity assistance to state and local governments.Johnson served as Obama’s homeland security chief from December 2013 to January 2017.But election organization officials criticized the decision as an overreach that could make elections less transparent.