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Trump disputes Russian interference in 2016 election

23 June 2017

Former Secretary Johnson designated the nation's election infrastructure as "crucial infrastructure" this January as a way to ensure more formal cooperation and attention around the subject.

Priestap said, the "scale and aggressiveness" was different this time, with the primary goal being to sow discord and aid the candidacy of Republican Donald Trump, the eventual victor.

At that point, Johnson and James R. Clapper, then the director of national intelligence, issued a joint statement accusing Moscow of cyber "thefts and disclosures ... meant to interfere with the USA election process" and of attempts "by a Russian company" to break in to state voter registration databases.

At a separate hearing, a current Homeland Security official, Jeanette Manfra, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the agency has evidence that Russian Federation targeted election-related systems in 21 of the 50 USA states.

On Twitter, Trump challenged the Obama administration for failing to stop the Russians.

Mueller met for about an hour with the top four Republicans and Democrats on the committee.

Committee Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) also decried the intelligence's reticence to give more information about the hacks.

Department of Homeland Security cyber division acting director Sam Liles told the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that internet-connected election related networks were potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors.

"Russia's 2016 Presidential election influence effort was its boldest to date in the United States", he told the committee. He said 33 states and 36 cities and counties used his department's tools to scan for potential vulnerabilities.

Priestap said that since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990's, "Russia has substantially rebuilt, but it hasn't been able to fully regain its former status or its former territory".

The DNC's decision disappointed Johnson, who said that he "shouldn't camped out" at its headquarters. He says he pressed his staff to know whether the Department of Homeland Security "was sufficiently proactive, and on the scene helping the DNC identify the intruders and patch vulnerabilities".

DNC officials have claimed that the offer from the DHS came months after the revelation of the hack and after the Federal Bureau of Investigation had begun their work in stopping the intrusion.

"Hindsight is 20/20", Johnson said at one point in the hearing.

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The two men will meet for a week every month to negotiate, and use the time in between to "work on proposals". They are due to give a joint news conference after talks among their teams lasting seven hours.

Instead of asking for law enforcement's help the DNC relied on a private firm called Crowdstrike.

"To my disappointment, not to my knowledge, sir", he answered. "The response I got was Federal Bureau of Investigation had spoken to them, they don't want our help.

The response I got was Federal Bureau of Investigation had spoken to them, they don't want our help, they have CrowdStrike", Johnson testified, referring to the cybersecurity firm that investigated the Russian hacks on behalf of the DNC.

The vice chair of President Donald Trump's commission to examine election voter fraud and voter suppression said the group could potentially look into Russian hacking.

The extent of interference by Russian hackers has been the source of speculation and media reports for months - the Russia issue has cast a shadow over Mr Trump's first five months in office.

Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee in May that he doesn't "know whether such collusion existed".

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told House lawmakers today that he was frustrated with some of the response to the "very troubling" hacking operation by Russian Federation during the campaign 2016 season, from the Democratic National Committee shunning assistance to patch their vulnerabilities to states wary to work with DHS on securing their voting systems.

In early January, Johnson designated USA election systems such as polling places and voter registration databases as critical infrastructure.

All 17 intelligence agencies have agreed Russian Federation was behind the hack of Democratic email systems and tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Mr Trump. That report said Russian intelligence services had "obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple USA state or local electoral boards".

Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the officials said none of the digital intrusions affected the parts of electoral systems that counted votes - but that they expect Russian Federation to keep trying.

Liles said of the 21, a small number were attempted for an intrusion unsuccessfully, "as if someone rattled the door knob and was unable to get in", and in a small number "they made it through the door".

US elections are highly decentralized.

As you'll recall, Wikileaks published thousands of hacked DNC emails containing embarrassing information about the Clinton campaign.

Trump disputes Russian interference in 2016 election