Ron Johnson Asleep on Russian Hacking?
He was informed of problem, did nothing, then misled public about it.
“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.”
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.
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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More about the Russian Affair
- Op Ed: Is Walker a Russian Dupe? - Bill Kaplan - Jul 24th, 2018
- Gov. Scott Walker Political Operation Snagged $250,000 Check Mere Days After Meeting With Accused Russian Spy - One Wisconsin Now - Jul 20th, 2018
- What’s Walker Hiding? - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Jul 18th, 2018
- Campaign Cash: Russian Operative Highlights Walker’s NRA Ties - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Jul 18th, 2018
- Matt Flynn Blasts Scott Walker for Meeting with Russian Spy - Matt Flynn - Jul 16th, 2018
- Plenty of Horne: Giuliani Can’t Practice Law in D.C. - Michael Horne - Jun 28th, 2018
- Pocan Statement Regarding Reports that Russian-Linked Facebook Ads Targeted Wisconsin - U.S. Rep Mark Pocan - Oct 4th, 2017
- Wisconsin Notified of Unsuccessful Russian Hacking Attempt - Wisconsin Elections Commission - Sep 22nd, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: Wisconsin A Key State for Russian Hacking - Bruce Murphy - Aug 8th, 2017
- Report Suggests Wisconsin Voters Targeted by Collusion Between Trump Campaign, Russian Fake News Operation - One Wisconsin Now - Jul 13th, 2017
- Rep. Pocan Statement on Former FBI Director James Comey’s Testimony on Trump and Russia - U.S. Rep Mark Pocan - Jun 8th, 2017
- Speaker Paul Ryan Swears House GOP To Secrecy Regarding Trump’s Ties To Russia, Spokesperson Lies About The Conversation - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - May 17th, 2017
- As FBI Confirms Russia Investigation - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Mar 21st, 2017
- FBI Investigation into Links Between Trump/Russia Highlights Need for Special Prosecutor - U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore - Mar 20th, 2017
- Revelations about Sessions’ Contact with Russia Warrants his Removal - U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore - Mar 2nd, 2017
- Senators Call for Independent Prosecutor to Investigate Trump Officials’ Collusion with Russia and Apparent White House Cover-Up - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Feb 15th, 2017
- Rep. Pocan Urges President Trump to Fully Declassify Report on Russian Interference in 2016 Election - U.S. Rep Mark Pocan - Feb 14th, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: Ron Johnson Asleep on Russian Hacking? - Bruce Murphy - Jan 10th, 2017
- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Joins Call for Bipartisan Senate Select Committee Investigation of Russian Interference in 2016 Election - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Jan 3rd, 2017
- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Statement on Russian Cyberattacks - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Dec 16th, 2016
- Wisconsin Comrades Set to Welcome Donald Trump, Whitewash Russian Attempts to Influence Elections - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 13th, 2016