Jeh Johnson: Military needs to do better job of 'rooting out' extremists

Jeh Johnson: Military needs to do better job of 'rooting out' extremists
© Cameron Lancaster

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday that the military needs to do a better job of "rooting out" individuals with extremist views, after a Coast Guard lieutenant was accused of plotting to kill prominent Democratic lawmakers and journalists. 

"We do, I think, need to do a better job of rooting out people who harbor extremist views that could turn to violence. I think the good news story is that we did in fact uncover this individual’s plans and his hatred before he was able to act on it," Johnson said during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested after allegedly collecting guns and creating a hit list that included Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

The list also reportedly included hosts on CNN and MSNBC. 

Prosecutors have said that Hasson has identified as a white nationalist and "advocated for ‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland."

Johnson said Sunday that countering extremist views has to "start at the top" with leaders.

"Leaders lead, and people really do listen to their leaders. The level of dialogue is deviating downward," he added.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE last week called it a "very sad thing" that Hasson was accused of plotting terror attacks.

Trump also said that he thinks his language is "very nice" when asked if he felt his anti-press rhetoric was at all to blame.