Trump Claims Ex-DHS Chief’s Testimony Clears His Campaign Of Collusion

Charlie Neibergall/AP

President Donald Trump on Thursday claimed former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s testimony before Congress cleared his campaign of allegations of collusion with Russia, even though what Johnson had to say on that point was far more limited in scope.

Trump misidentified Johnson in a tweet as a homeland security “advisor” and claimed Johnson asserted “there was no grand scheme between Trump & Russia.”

Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that he had not seen any evidence of collusion “beyond what has been out there open-source,” referring to publicly available reports. The former DHS secretary also noted he hasn’t had access to any intelligence produced “over the last five months” as the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election has intensified.

Trump on Thursday also questioned why the Obama administration did not do more to halt that interference: “Why didn’t they stop them?”, he tweeted.

Johnson on Wednesday said the intelligence community had been wary of making a public announcement about Russian meddling in part because Trump spent a large part of his campaign claiming the election would be “rigged” against him.

“One of the candidates, as you’ll recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged in some way,” Johnson said. “And so we were concerned that by making the statement, we might in and of itself be challenging the integrity of the election process itself.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday that he had not “sat down and talked to” Trump about whether the President believes Russia interfered in the election, although U.S. intelligence agencies agree that it did.

Trump appeared to answer that question on Thursday in another tweet expressing skepticism over whether Russian interference took place at all. He noted Johnson’s testimony that the Democratic National Committee “did not feel it needed” the Department of Homeland Security’s help when its systems were hacked.

“It’s all a big Dem HOAX!” Trump tweeted.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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