Given the scope and breadth of the Kremlin’s attempts to interfere in the November election, the Obama administration has faced questions about the timing of its public disclosure, just a month before Americans went to the polls. According to Johnson, he was “very concerned” about signs of Russian meddling as early as the late summer.
“Why wasn’t it more important to tell the American people the length and breadth of what the Russians were doing to interfere in an election than any risk that it might be seen as putting your hand on the scale?” ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) asked. “Didn’t the public have a compelling need to know?”
…In a separate hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday morning, a current DHS official told lawmakers that Russia targeted election-related systems in 21 states leading up to the election.
…[Johnson]echoed previous testimony from Clapper, saying that he did not know the factual basis for the FBI to open the probe.
But, he said, Comey would not have opened a counterintelligence investigation on a mere hunch. Pressed by Schiff on whether the director would require an evidentiary basis to open such an investigation, Johnson affirmed: “Based on everything I know about Jim Comey and the FBI, yes.”