Trump fumes on Twitter after ex-Homeland Security chief testifies about Russian cyberattacks

Gabby Kaufman
Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson testifies about Russian meddling in the 2016 election before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)
Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson testifies about Russian meddling in the 2016 election before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill June 21, 2017. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

President Trump fired off a barrage of tweets Thursday morning, hammering away at the “big Dem scam” and “big Dem HOAX!” in the aftermath of former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s testimony the day before about Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

In particular, Trump seized upon Johnson’s comment that the Democratic National Committee was among those who rebuffed his department’s offer for assistance during the Russian attack. The U.S. intelligence community has accused the Kremlin of being behind the hack that led to thousands of emails being released through WikiLeaks.

“Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks (long prior to election). It’s all a big Dem HOAX!” Trump exclaimed. “Why did the DNC REFUSE to turn over its Server to the FBI, and still hasn’t? It’s all a big Dem scam and excuse for losing the election!”

It was not immediately clear what Trump meant by labeling the hacking a Democratic “HOAX” and “scam.” But Trump has long vented at the FBI and about congressional investigations into Russian efforts to influence the election and whether anyone affiliated with his campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Trump’s Twitter outburst was part of a string that began with the claim that Johnson testified there was no collusion. Johnson had only stated that he did not see any evidence by the time he relinquished his position in January.

Trump also cast doubt on whether Russia did anything to affect the election, referring to such efforts speculatively though Johnson testified definitively about the Kremlin’s involvement.

“In 2016 the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our Nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple,” the former Homeland Security chief said in his opening statement. “Now, the key question for the President and Congress is: what are we going to do to protect the American people and their democracy from this kind of thing in the future?”

The Democratic National Committee issued a statement labeling the tweetstorm an attempt to “distract” from the Senate GOP’s health care bill, which was released shortly after.

In the statement, DNC Deputy Communications Director Adrienne Watson also rejected Trump’s suggestion that they were not cooperating with law enforcement in the Russia investigation.

“The DNC has and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement on Russia’s interference in our election. The DNC has been in regular contact with the FBI for many months and the FBI confirmed the DNC has provided all the information it needed to make its assessment,” Watson said.

“The intelligence community has no doubt that the Russians attacked the DNC in an effort to disrupt our election,” she continued. “The only person who disputes this is Donald Trump, who has shown zero interest in protecting our country from future attacks and is now trying to distract Americans from his devastating healthcare repeal.”

Trump also used Twitter on Thursday to weigh in on speculation that Democrats may look into replacing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the aftermath of this week’s stinging loss in the special election for a Georgia House seat.

“I certainly hope the Democrats do not force Nancy P out. That would be very bad for the Republican Party – and please let Cryin’ Chuck stay!”

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