The Administration

Are Democrats trying to pin the blame for their own sins on Russia?

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The former head of President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, made an excuse Wednesday for why his organization hadn’t been forthcoming about “Russian hacking” during the 2016 election. They didn’t want to appear partisan, he told the House Intelligence Committee.

Leaving aside for a minute that Russia “hacking” the 2016 election is a wildly inaccurate portrayal of Russia’s digital meddling — which to date are only allegations, nothing proven — there’s likely another reason Johnson wasn’t quick to cry foul: some of the known, legitimate attempts to hack into state election databases were perpetrated by Johnson’s own organization, the Obama-led DHS.

In an op-ed published in May, RNLA detailed what we called “the other, much worse hacking story.” In that piece, we outlined how cybersecurity experts confirmed Obama’s Department of Homeland Security had been caught trying to illegally access several voter registration systems in various states, including GeorgiaIdahoIndianaKentucky, Maine, and West Virginia.

{mosads}FBI Director James Comey said at the time that hackers would have been frustrated in their attempts due to the “clunky and dispersed” voting system in the U.S. We concluded that actual votes, based on Comey’s statements, were therefore very hard to change. So whatever Russia — and the contractor that worked for Obama’s DHS — were doing, they weren’t very successful. In fact, Johnson admitted as much in his testimony Wednesday when he told the Intelligence Committee, “I know of no evidence that through cyber intrusion, votes were altered or suppressed in some way.”

 

Which is why it was striking to see Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, rip into Johnson for not revealing just what Russia was doing in 2016. Warner said the decision by DHS to keep the number and the names of states that were supposedly affected by Russian hacking was  “just crazy, in [his] mind.”

Warner never mentioned that DHS was also implicated in what turned out to be ineffective meddling. He even went so far as to send a letter to new DHS head John Kelly demanding answers. He stated that if the government refused to “tell the public how many states were attacked, or potentially how many could be attacked in the next cycle, I don’t think we get to where we need to be,” warning that the 2018 and 2020 cycles could also be vulnerable.

But since we already know that at least some of the 2016 attempted — and unsuccessful — breaches came from the previous administration’s DHS (Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp actually asked incoming President Trump to investigate the agency) how does Kelly comply with that request without bringing down the wrath of those defending the sainted image of a former president beloved by his base? Warner, it seems, is demanding fast answers because he knows the only acceptable answer — and the one everyone has already agreed upon — is Russia.

But there is another player here, and that player worked for Obama. Warner likely knows it, and Johnson certainly does. The righteous indignation of the former and the cynical “I was trying to do the right thing” line from the latter are nothing more than partisan politics. They are little more than an attempt to protect the previous administration from being exposed as election meddlers, albeit unsuccessful ones. But Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails, which showed the Democratic National Committee colluding with her campaign to ensure she won the nomination over Bernie Sanders, have already proven that meddling in democratic processes is a strategy the left employs to win. 

David A. Warrington is vice president of Election Education at the Republican National Lawyers Association and a Partner at LeClairRyan.


All opinions expressed are his personal opinions.

Tags Bernie Sanders David Warrington Donald Trump Hillary Clinton James Comey Jeh Johnson Mark Warner Mark Warner Russia
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