Jeh Johnson: Media focused on 'Access Hollywood' tape instead of Russian meddling ahead of election

Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday that warnings about Russian interference in the 2016 election went unnoticed because of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressive groups urge Feinstein to back filibuster carve out for voting rights or resign Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Five faces from the media who became political candidates MORE (D-Calif.) asked Johnson during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on election security why his department did not alert the American people leading up to the 2016 election that Russians were attempting to meddle in the process. 

“Well, senator, the American people were told,” said Johnson, who led DHS from 2013 until the end of the Obama administration.


He noted that he and then-Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Hillicon Valley — Justice Department takes on Uber Former top officials warn democracy in 'jeopardy' without Congressional action on election security MORE issued a statement on Oct. 7, 2016, that stated the intelligence community was confident the Russian government was behind efforts to interfere in the upcoming election.

“Frankly, it did not get the attention that I thought it should’ve received. It was below-the-fold news the next day, because of the release of the 'Access Hollywood' video the same day, and a number of other events,” Johnson said Wednesday.

“I was expecting follow-up from a lot of journalists, and we never got that because everyone was focused on the campaign and that video, and that debate that Sunday,” he added. 

The Washington Post published its story on the tape on Oct. 8, 2016. The tape, which was recorded in 2005, featured President TrumpDonald TrumpFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Giving thanks for Thanksgiving itself Immigration provision in Democrats' reconciliation bill makes no sense MORE bragging about groping and kissing women without their consent.

Following its release, multiple women came forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct. 

Trump apologized for the comments and described them as “locker room talk.”

Johnson and current DHS head Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenFar-left bullies resort to harassing, shaming Kyrsten Sinema — it won't work Ex-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides MORE testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee amid concerns that Russia will attempt to meddle in this year's midterm elections.