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Political Editors / June 23, 2017

Jeh Johnson Confirms Russians Were Behind DNC Hacking

The former DHS secretary also asserted that the Democrat National Committee refused any help.

The picture of Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election last year is becoming clearer. On Wednesday, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee and confirmed as a “fact” that the Russians, directed by Vladimir Putin, engaged in cyberattacks designed to interfere in the 2016 election. Johnson’s testimony provided a glimpse into the world of international political espionage. It’s possible, of course, that Johnson is running Democrat interference, but we don’t think that’s the case. His testimony served as a reminder that the clandestine Cold War waged between the U.S. and the Soviet Union never truly ended.

We learned some interesting specifics from Johnson’s testimony. For example, after Homeland Security alerted the DNC to their having been hacked and offering to provide help to protect their network, Democrat leadership refused the help. Johnson said he “sounded the alarm [of Russian cyberattacks] but the press and voters were focused on a lot of other things.” Disgraced former DNC Chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was ousted because the hacking exposed her role in stacking the deck against Bernie Sanders, adamantly denied Johnson’s assertion, calling him “misinformed” and “wrong in every respect.” That usually describes her, so take her denial with a big grain of salt.

Indeed, Rep. Trey Gowdy essentially did just that, telling Johnson why he thought the DNC didn’t accept help. “Let me hazard a wild guess,” Gowdy said. “That there may be something else on that server they didn’t want law enforcement to see? That is where you start. … I have dealt in the past with victims that would not cooperate with investigations. Typically, the reason is, there is something else you don’t want law enforcement to see.”

Johnson also confirmed that Moscow did attempt to hack into 21 states’ voting systems, but no ballots were altered. He warned that Americans can only expect more cyberattacks from Russia and other nefarious actors in the future.

This hacking of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign are merely the latest incidents in a long-running war — a war that many Americans may have assumed had ended with the fall of the Soviet Union. Bill Priestap, assistant director of the Counter Intelligence Division at the FBI pushed back on that view, stating, “All the way through the Cold War up to our most recent election, in my opinion they [Russian leadership] have tried to influence all of our elections.”

In sum, we now know that Russia’s meddling in our election wasn’t something new. We also know that while it did little if anything to affect the electoral outcome, it served as a convenient scapegoat for a shell-shocked Democrat Party — a party that still can’t believe it lost the presidency to Donald Trump.

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