Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday that the Trump administration’s reluctance to address the Russian interference shows acceptance of a foreign power meddling in U.S. elections.
“The current administration and current president is kinda sending the signals that this will be tolerated,” Mr. Johnson said on MSNBC.
“I have not heard from President Trump a strong statement of condemnation about the Russia behavior, and about what all of his intelligence community is telling him happened last year, and what we said publicly last year happened,” he said.
But Mr. Johnson pushed back against the idea that the intelligence community dragged their heels in announcing the Russian interference, saying there were a lot of factors to consider.
“The decision to make attribution on Oct. 7 was a very big decision because we were in the midst of a very overheated campaign, with one of the candidates saying the results are going to be rigged, but at the end of the day, we decided that we had to tell the American voting public, the American public, what was going on,” he said.
Mr. Johnson also took a swipe at Mr. Trump, saying making the decision to release this information to the public isn’t like “issuing a tweet.”
“You’ve got to think about whether you’re compromising sources and methods by doing that. You’ve got to think about the effect of injecting ourselves in the campaign. You’ve gotta think about and anticipate that the Russia reaction will be. You’ve got to think about the fact that one of the candidates is already saying the election is going to be rigged. It’s not waking up one morning and issuing a tweet,” he said.
The former Homeland Security head also said the Obama administration took appropriate action for an outgoing administration.
“From my point of view, we took steps that were cybersecurity-related that would have the affect of undermining this kind of effort in the future. One of the things we did was to unmask the Russian actors, unmask their signatures so that if other people saw this signature in their systems, they’d know what it was,” Mr. Johnson explained.
He wouldn’t say whether he thought this changed the outcome of the 2016 race, but he did say that it can’t be tolerated in the future.
“That’s for a pollster or a social scientist to figure out, but they intervened in our political process and that can’t be permitted going forward,” Mr. Johnson said.