Ex-DHS chief: 'To my current knowledge' Russia did not alter vote counts

Ex-DHS chief: 'To my current knowledge' Russia did not alter vote counts
© Cameron Lancaster

Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson plans to testify Wednesday that he knows of no evidence that the Russian government altered vote counts in the 2016 presidential election.

"To my current knowledge, the Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots, ballot counts or reporting of election results," Johnson plans to say in his prepared statement before the House Intelligence Committee.

"I am not in a position to know whether the successful Russian government-directed hacks of the [Democratic National Committee] and elsewhere did in fact alter public opinion and thereby alter the outcome of the presidential election," his statement adds.

The former DHS chief, whose tenure as an Obama administration official ended in January, made similar comments in an interview earlier this month.

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Johnson's tenure atop the DHS ended months before the National Security Agency (NSA) began investigating a spear phishing campaign against elections officials that involved hacking a manufacturer of software to aid in voter registration.

The existence of the NSA investigation, which started in April, was recently leaked.

The former DHS chief also plans to testify about the Obama administration's initial efforts to respond to the hack that exposed Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails last summer.

"Fresh from the experience with the Office of Personnel Management, I pressed my staff to know whether DHS was sufficiently proactive, and on the scene helping the DNC identify the intruders and patch vulnerabilities," Johnson plans to say Wednesday.

"The answer, to the best of my recollection, was not reassuring: the FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other months before about the intrusion, and the DNC did not feel it needed DHS’s assistance at that time," he adds in the statement.

According to written testimony, Johnson will describe his department's efforts to prevent a bad situation from getting worse after learning about the Russian hacking efforts.

Johnson will also discuss further hot button issues, like his decision to declare elections critical infrastructure and the limits of election tampering.

The former DHS secretary maintained that during the 2016 election "the Russian government, at the direction of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple."