Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Ron Johnson Asleep on Russian Hacking?

He was informed of problem, did nothing, then misled public about it.

By - Jan 10th, 2017 12:20 pm
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Ron Johnson and Vladimir Putin. Johnson photo from the U.S. Federal Government. Putin photo from www.kremlin.ru.

Ron Johnson and Vladimir Putin. Johnson photo from the U.S. Federal Government. Putin photo from www.kremlin.ru.

Yesterday, in an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, Sen. Ron Johnson made it clear he takes a very tough stand on Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin.

“I’m very wary of Vladimir Putin,” Johnson said. “There have been close to 30 suspicious political assassinations since he has taken power.”

As for Putin and Russian using cyber hacking to interfere with America’s elections, he declared, “I take it very seriously. As chair of European Subcommittee on Foreign Relations, we’ve held a number of hearings on Russia’s disinformation campaign and how they are trying to de-stabilize certainly Eastern European countries, but just their destabilization efforts around the world.”

Indeed, Johnson had “heard firsthand of Russia’s efforts to destabilize and interfere in the internal affairs of its neighbors,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal.

And yet back in mid-September when Johnson was informed by intelligence leaders of Russian hacking and was asked to join a bipartisan effort to warn Russia to desist, Johnson did nothing.

To date no one in the Wisconsin media has even reported that Johnson attended this intelligence briefing, much less that he had no response to the information.

The details of the mid-September meeting are in a story by the Washington Post, which reported that President Barack Obama had dispatched his counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson “to make the pitch for a ‘show of solidarity and bipartisan unity’ against Russian interference in the election,” as a senior administration official told the Post.

As chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Johnson was one the so-called “Gang of 12,” the top 12 congressional leaders, who were invited to the meeting. (House Speaker Paul Ryan also attended the meeting.) Johnson later confirmed to Politico that he participated in the briefing.

“In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals,” the Post reported.

“And they made a case for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described as ‘the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.’”

But Republican leaders declined to join a bipartisan response to the information. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics,” the Post reports.

Russia’s interference with the American elections fit the pattern of a country engaged in disinformation and destabilization efforts across the globe, as Johnson has described it. And Russia’s leader was someone Johnson already suspected of nefarious acts. Johnson had previously sponsored resolutions calling for a full investigation into the murder of a Russian political opposition leader and for an investigation of Russia’s attacks on the Ukraine.

Johnson, in short, had an opportunity to be a patriot and condemn the fact that Russia was now engaged in such activities in the United States. But he issued no resolutions — in fact, not one word — on Russian’s cyber attacks on America.

Worse, he has engaged in his own pattern of misinformation on the subject. After the CIA publicly released a report in January concluding that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election, Johnson issued a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal saying he would “would need more definitive information before drawing further conclusions.” Johnson did not reveal that he had been informed back in September this was happening.

Johnson went on to complain to CNBC that the CIA refused to brief him on Russian hacking, saying “I have not seen the evidence that it actually was Russia,” while failing to note the CIA report’s echoed the briefing he’d received from other intelligence leaders in September.

Johnson also complained that Obama had failed to confront the Russia government with strength, even though the Obama administration had proposed a strong stand on cyber hacking which Johnson declined to join.

So things stood until this week, when Johnson did an about face and declared his concern about Russia’s cyber hacking of his country. Why the sudden shift of position?

Perhaps because Trump’s election was certified last week so Russia’s efforts to help elect him can’t be used to pry away any electoral votes. Or perhaps because of the Senate hearing last Thursday, where senators on both sides of the aisle expressed concern about testimony by intelligence leaders on Russian hacking. As GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham noted, Republicans could be the next target of cyberattacks. “Could it be Republicans next election?” he said. “It’s not like we’re so much better at cybersecurity than Democrats.”

Indeed, all Americans are threatened when a hostile nation targets us for cyber attacks. That’s true now, and was true back in mid-September when Ron Johnson failed to take any action. Perhaps it’s time for him to explain why.

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

39 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Ron Johnson Asleep on Russian Hacking?”

  1. Vincent Hanna says:

    This whole thing is so surreal and insane. If Russia meddled with the election to help Clinton win, Republicans would be losing their minds. The GOP has always painted Russia as the enemy. Obama was lambasted in 2013 for being too easy on Putin and Russia. This is like some bizarro world where up is down and left is right.

  2. Observor says:

    Not a peep from former anti-communist WCD. Hmm.

  3. Highly predictable.

    Russian hacking is bad everywhere except here in the United States when and where it supported Johnson’s political interests.

    You say he didn’t do the patriotic thing, and put the country’s interest above his party’s. But that is not the way he sees it. The Republican’s made out the Democrats to be worse than the Russians, who for example, are not trying to ruin your health care.

  4. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Silly Buce. Ron is ten time as sharp as the people on this site. He is not asleep on anything ask Russ, who, never, like tammy, did anything.
    Everyone I talk to, in DC, has high marks for Ron.
    A lot of us want to see what Johnson/Trump can do. Putin is in very bad place right now.
    Russia has 1.2 billion people south of him that have lots of money, and is expanding their military. He is stuck in the Ukraine, Syria, but his revenues are going down.
    This could be the time for US to work stuff out with the Russkies. They need friends now.
    Putin thought Obama was a wimp who Putin could push around, at will, and he was right.
    Trump will not be pushed around trump is smart, tough, lots of International experience. Unlimited potential. He is NY Savvy, not like the people on this site, who cannot even run Milwaukee worth a damn. Bruce included.
    Trump has a passion for this country, while Obama dislikes what we have stood for, over the years.
    Let us see what is going to happen the next 6 months.
    Johnson will be in there fighting for us, that is for sure. Russ, Tammy would have been asleep. Tammy announced she is gping to spend all of her time fighting Trurmp instead of fixing the mess, Obama has made.

  5. Vincent Hanna says:

    Trump is tough??!! LOL!! That’s priceless. He tweets therefore he’s tough.

    Fighting for us by doing nothing about Russian hacking. A foreign government trying to influence what’s supposed to be a free and fair election. Man your denial is strong.

  6. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    For Ron Johnson so loved this country, that he covered up this story so that we would not be subjected to a GIRL being in charge, and that we would avoid the scourge of poor people getting health insurance.

    That was well worth selling out the sovereignty of the USA, right? And for golden showers on a bunch of Russian whores, no less? Well done, dumb Dohnal! Well done, stupid white redneck Wisconsinites! You sure showed us smarty-pantses, didn’t ya?

    Seriously, this is treason, and people voted in November under false pretenses and false information because of the cover-up that the GOP Senators pulled. I’m sure (mo)Ron Johnson doesn’t care, because he’s got a 6-figure, taxpayer-funded job for the next 6 years. But I wouldn’t be so sure about that, the way things are going. If this disgusting episode isn’t reason to enshrine a right to recall for members of Congress, nothing is.

    RESIGN, while you can.

  7. tim haering says:

    Trump think’s he’s Frank Underwood and Putin is Pres. Petrov. Perhaps JOhnson thinks so too. NObody’s tried bravado and chutzpah against him. Can you imagine Melania toasting Putin’s “little pickle”?

  8. Vincent Hanna says:

    WCD how do you feel about Trump paying sex workers to pee on a bed the Obamas slept in? That’s presidential behavior? Makes you feel proud to have a man like that as our leader?

  9. Patricia Jursik says:

    Remember the John Birch society? Koch family involvement? (Read DARK MONEY, I say once again). Party before country? The actions of Sen. Johnson reveals who he represents. Thank you for this reporting.

  10. BSH says:

    What’s the evidence? Still haven’t seen any.

    Further, how does the public disclosure of private communications constitute “interference”? If those communications were entirely ethical and above-board, their disclosure would cause no harm at all, and instead increase public support. This narrative is all spin. It would be spun that way, no matter what the facts were. Russia may have been intending to support Hillary by proving her campaign to be well-organized and ethical, and it backfired. Since they already have classified info from her server, they probably have leverage over her, and her initiatives.

  11. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Is there anyone on here that is a serious person that knows how to solve problems, has been in office, been a candidate, run a campaign, written legislation
    No they all spout stupid idiocies like Hanna and the talking points. No credibility, no solutions, just stupidity.

  12. Vincent Hanna says:

    Stupid idiocies like angrily tweeting about award shows that annoy you? Twitter temper tantrums are pretty stupid aren’t they? Do you support Trump just because there’s an R after his name, or because you actually believe he is a serious person who knows how to solve problems?

  13. Vincent Hanna says:

    Also, conservatives like you are always preaching fealty to the constitution. We must have candidates who will uphold and defend the constitution they say. Conservatives bash Obama for disrespecting and violating the constitution. I don’t think even you will disagree with this. So explain this to me WCD. Trump is going to continue owning his companies, which are receiving payments from foreign governments, which is a violation of the constitution. As a conservative, you are outraged right?

  14. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    BSH lives up to his name, because that is some BULL-S**T there, son!

    Johnson was in the room when the Russian interference and propaganda was revealed in September, he lied about knowing about it when asked at the time, and he benefitted from it in the November elections. He has no moral core.

    This isn’t hard to figure out

  15. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Sure Jake and pigs fly.

  16. Vincent Hanna says:

    So explain this to me WCD. Trump is going to continue owning his companies, which are receiving payments from foreign governments, which is a violation of the constitution. As a conservative, you are outraged right?

  17. Thomas says:

    That Ron Johnson did nothing at the request for bipartisan action versus Russian hacking back in September is not surprising. He has done little beyond whine and mislead the public about the Affordable Care Act in his 6 years as a faux citizen senator. The multi-million dollar infusion of dark money to his campaign helped him win in November. He needs to be watched if he sleep-walks in his second term. With Trump at the wheel, our senators need to be awake.

  18. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Thomas, full of crap. Johnson is one of the most respected voices in DC on national security, hear that all the time, in direct contrast to Russ and Tammy, who have done nothing to add to our security, but a lot to foil ti. Neither has ever done anything or been in charge of anything. Russ was described as the “Biggest Flake in the senate, no one follows him.

  19. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Funny when peoel talk of dark money when the Left outspends the Conservatives 2-1, and take millions from Soros and other nuts. Hillary spend 1.2 billion to Trump 600 million.
    Dark money invented by Russ in mcCain Feingold 527’s.

  20. Patricia Jursik says:

    To Wisconsin Conservative, whatever you name is, why not work under your real name? But to answer your question, Yes, I have run for election; In 2007, a hand-picked Walker candidate ran in a Special Election for County Supervisor, Dist. 8; Walker set the Tuesday after the 4th of July as the primary to try and steal this district election. Then Walker stood next to his hand-picked candidate, Kujawa to endorse him. Kujawa then said he’d guarantee the Veto power of Walker (the county board was generally one vote short of the needed 1/3 vote to stop the over ride. Kujawa next proclaimed that the county had too much Park Land and he would sell off some of these parks, when pushed for an example, he cited Warnimont. At this point and having minded my own business as a practicing attorney in Cudahy with no intention of impaling myself against the swords of your crowd in an election, I looked at my husband and said I am going to have to run. Against the onslaught of Talk Radio (Belling, Sykes and others) who gave my opponent unmatched air time and in studio propaganda, I did what Obama recommended; I got my clip board and collected signatures. I went door to door and told constituents that if Kujawa was running to guarantee a Walker veto, who would actually represent their district? Then I told them my opponent wanted to sell off park land. In spite of the entire Walker machine running his campaign, I won that election. Why?
    Because I dared to stand up; Why don’t you try it and provide your name. Pat Jursik

  21. Vincent Hanna says:

    WCD, Trump is going to continue owning his companies, which are receiving payments from foreign governments, which is a violation of the constitution. As a conservative, you are outraged right?

  22. blurondo says:

    No 11: “Is there anyone on here that is a serious person that knows how to solve problems, has been in office, been a candidate, run a campaign, written legislation”
    You’re describing Trump.

  23. Patricia Jursik says:

    Blurondo: See Comment #20;

  24. Vincent Hanna says:

    A woman and ardent Trump supporter (from Wisconsin no less) called in to NPR this morning and said the people in Russia are more free than they are in the United States and that we need to do much more to make life here more like it is there. She added that whenever she saw Russia on TV she saw more Christmas trees there than here and that they are a more moral and Christian nation than we are. I wonder if WCD agrees.

  25. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Can anyone here make any intelligent discussions about Wis/Milwaukee problems instead of the dopey things I have read the last 5 of them.
    Jursik whines about getting screwed politically. Poor dear.
    I wait fro her answers to: MPS, kids cannot read, jobs, economy , crime, abandoned houses, kids 57% unemployed, Heroin crime, dugs shooting, failure to police properly in key areas, Milwaukee county statewide disgrace, axes, pension mess, roads, human trafficking.
    Go to Facebook: Wisconsin Conservative Digest and read. We have published that for 20 years.
    Bob and jean Dohnal, Publishers
    Wisconsin Conservative Digest

  26. Vincent Hanna says:

    I am reading your Facebook page right now. First of all, the amount of spelling and grammar errors is staggering. It is impossible to make sense of half of your posts because of the absolutely terrible writing. That makes it difficult to take you seriously. If you were a high school student and you handed in a paper with errors like that, you would fail.

    Also, you berate others here for whining and not providing solutions. Your Facebook page contains no solutions whatsoever. There’s a post about Ben Carson and reading. Another about an inauguration party. Another about the NRA. Another calling Rosie O’Donnell a “dopey broad” (is it 1950?). There are no solutions present.

    Seriously your Facebook page reads like the unhinged ravings on a madman, not an educated and thoughtful human being.

  27. Joe Dokes says:

    WCD: you have been “publishing” for 20 years? That’s hilarious. What you have is a Facebook page where you link to stories you like. there are no solutions to problems you constantly repeat and mis-spell here, no original stories, nothing. Pull back the curtain and we have a gas bag with a lot of time on his hands to complain and none left to produce anything.

  28. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Great to learn that Scott saved us from billion overruns on the Halfast trains. California, to day, after nurmerous changes, shortening routes etc. are way over budget. Will break Ca.

  29. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Just by the way. Published my first newspaper column in Post newspapers in 1967 and have written columns in all major newspapers and Conservative magazines, speeches etc.
    This is modern world of texting.
    We get over 1000 emails daily, to answer, so do not worry about grammar spelling. Content only.

  30. Darryl says:

    MURPHY, I love your reporting! Please continue to expose the inconsistencies and lies of those who are employed by the people of local, municipal, state and federal government of the United States. TRUMP is in “bed” with the Russia and PUTIN’s Federal Repulic government. TRUMP owes them but at this time, we don’t know actually what it is and hopefully the people of the U.S. will BE PROVIED all the blackmailing information regarding TRUMP. At first, I was surprised by the U.S. Representatives reactions of findings of Russia’s coercing our electoral process. Then I realized and suspect that the lack of outrage or action by congress or senate to demand and independent investigation is because the Russians most likely have derogatory information on them, as well, and these current representatives of congress have something to hide too. It appears that members of the Republican Party are fine with the hacking/blackmailing of the Democratic Party but when it comes to their party, they will attempt to hide out until this blows over. After the initial investigation of Russia’s coresion of the electoral process has concluded, the next investigation should be directed towards Paul RYAN and JOHNSON’s activities! Most U.S. citizens ( sheep-peoples) will be angry because of the lies andd cover-ups, but so what, our DEMOCRACY, NATIONAL SECURITY and SOVEREIGNTY are at stake!!

  31. Patricia Jursik says:

    WCD: Jursik did not write to complain about getting Screwed, I wrote to talk about standing up with my Clip Board and calling out the bullies, I won that election in spite of talk radio and all the big money trying to stick it to my district. Get your facts straight.

  32. Vincent Hanna says:

    What content WCD? It’s links to right-wing news you like. That is not content. It’s a Facebook page. If you have other recent columns to share, please do so. I’d love to read them.

  33. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Interesting to see how much the California Halfast train is going way over budget by billions even after numerous changes, shortening. This will break Ca.
    Walker save us from all of that. in fact he saved us 3 billion on Act 10, billion or so on that train, millions on that dumb exchange, billions on the extra Medicaid that is breaking the states, wiping out school aids, that took it and still face us tax cuts, property tax cuts.
    Thank Yu Scott.

  34. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Trump/Tillerson in bed with Putin?? Dmub. Other way around. Putin needs us to counter China in a Reverse Nixon. He has big problems.
    Putin had no use for the wimpy Kerry and Obama, ran all over them but he will not run over Trump and Tillerson.
    Hillary lost cause she forgot to got to Wis., Mi. Pa. and she was idiot candidate.
    What did Russia do and how did they do it? Did they expose all the corruption of Hillary, that the media should have done. hardly bad for the country. Saudis , Soros with their millions influenced the elections , not Russia.

  35. Vincent Hanna says:

    WCD what are you talking about? California’s economy is thriving. We should be so lucky. https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-06-06/california-makes-america-s-economy-great

    Russia interfering with our elections is good? That’s treason man. If they interfered to help Hillary you would be outraged beyond belief. Country, not party, first WCD.

  36. Vincent Hanna says:

    Trump trashes John Lewis, A Gold Star family, a disabled reporter, and more, yet he refuses to say anything bad about Putin. And dimwits like WCD believe that is strength, not Trump being a lapdog. You are a fool.

  37. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Issues/Ideas???
    Rep. Bob Gannon has been placed in charge of the new Urban affairs Committee in Wisconsin. They re going to move cause it is obvious that the white, liberal, male, racists cannot do it.
    Crime?? Milwaukee is worse, per capita, then Chicago and rapidly getting worse.
    What to do, what is causing it, who can fix it, why can’t Barrett/Flynn/Chisholm/Krermers do it?
    Families in inner city Districts 3 and 5 cannot sit in there living rooms, on the front porch?
    People on this site can yell out talking points, like idiot,s but can you solve something.
    Bruce why not try something of value in your questions? Heroin epidemic, crime, MPS, reading, abandoned houses, corruption, bad managemetn, worst in country, roads, jobs, poverty, 57% unemployment for kids,Milwaukee county govt. a joke in state, Milwaukee big rat hole to throw money into, high taxes, human trafficking.

  38. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    BUMP. Seems a bit interesting given today’s news, eh? Especially with (mo)Ron blaming the leakers instead of actually asking what did Flynn and the Trump Administration know and when did they know it.

    Can you say “Cover up?”

  39. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    California has 127.2 billion deficit according to auditors. Some boom.

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