Week ahead: Obama DHS chief to testify on Russian meddling

Week ahead: Obama DHS chief to testify on Russian meddling
© Haiyun Jiang

The House Intelligence Committee will press forward with its probe into Russian election interference, after weeks of the spotlight being on the parallel Senate investigation.

On Wednesday, the panel will convene an open hearing with Jeh Johnson, who led the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration. Johnson has already met with Senate investigators in their probe.

It was Johnson who, just weeks before former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Harris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia Biden to stump with McAuliffe Tuesday MORE left office, announced that the government was designating election infrastructure as "critical"--opening up polling places, vote tabulation locations, and technology used in elections to federal protections.


The decision was announced the same day that the intelligence community released its report on Russian election interference, which concluded that Russian intelligence accessed elements of state and local electoral boards, though not those involved in vote tallying. John Kelly, President Trump's DHS secretary, has indicated he will keep the critical designation in place.

Russia's targeting of elements of voting infrastructure has attracted renewed attention following The Intercept's recent publication of classified NSA report detailing such efforts. Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Russian hackers targeted voting systems in 39 states.

The House investigation has received little attention since the May 23 hearing during which former CIA director John Brennan, another Obama-era official, said that he had viewed intelligence showing contacts between associates of the Trump campaign and Moscow that concerned him.

Also Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold its own hearing on future U.S. election security, soliciting input from officials at DHS and the FBI, as well as individuals outside of the federal government--including an official with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Illinois officials revealed last year that the state's voter database had been targeted by a cyberattack. 

The hearing is also part of the panel's investigation into Russian election interference efforts.

The ongoing federal probe--led by special counsel Robert Mueller--has reportedly widened to include the possibility of obstruction of justice, following ousted FBI director James Comey's testimony that President Trump directed him to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will examine "cybersecurity regulation harmonization" on Wednesday featuring outside government efforts and a chief information officer with the government of Oklahoma.

On Thursday, lawmakers will host the first bipartisan Capitol Hill national security forum, an all-day event focusing on homeland security, intelligence, the military, and cybersecurity.

The event will feature a discussion with DHS chief John Kelly and is hosted by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) along with Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Senators call for answers from US firm over reported use of forced Uyghur labor in China MORE (R-Fla.) and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsManchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE (D-Del.).


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