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Helping to Elect Trump?

December 4, 2017

Does a gold-plated resume and a pleasing personality translate into effective law enforcement? Not necessarily.

It might even explain, in part, how Donald Trump became president.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialTake Jeh Johnson, who was honored last week by the city’s Citizens Crime Commission as the group’s equivalent of its Man of the Year for his service as Homeland Security secretary under President Barack Obama. Johnson is a graduate of Morehouse College and Columbia Law School. He was a federal prosecutor, general counsel to the Air Force and to the Department of Defense before becoming Homeland Security secretary during Obama’s second term.

Like Obama, he’s restrained and soft-spoken, genial and gracious. In enumerating his accomplishments before the crime commission, former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton gave him a 15-minute send-up that included the fact Johnson holds nine honorary degrees.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittAlas, neither these qualities nor qualifications prepared him for the job of Homeland Security secretary.

In 2015, after the arrests of two suspected jihadis, he turned up at Police Plaza to announce $181 million in anti-terrorism funding for the NYPD. His announcement came as part of a dog-and-pony show with local members of Congress, each of whom did a three-minute turn before the TV cameras, expatiating on his and her terrorism-fighting creds.

More important, when Johnson’s big moment came two years later, he blew it. Some might say he — and the Obama administration — failed the American people.

That moment occurred toward the end of the presidential campaign on Oct. 7, 2016, when the Obama administration belatedly went public with the fact that the Russians had hacked Democratic National Committee computers and several state voting systems.

“A number of us felt very strongly that we had to tell the American public what we knew and that it could prove unforgivable if we had not,” Johnson later told the PBS news documentary “Frontline.” “We recognized we had an overriding responsibility to inform the public that a powerful foreign state actor had covertly intervened in our democracy.”

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialSo, with then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Johnson issued a three-paragraph statement. Unfortunately, no one heard him.

Within a half-hour of the statement’s release, he explained to “Frontline,” an “Access Hollywood” video surfaced of Trump’s crude remarks about women. That same evening, WikiLeaks published its first hacked emails of John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

“I thought our statement was going to be really, really big news,” Johnson told “Frontline.” “We issued the statement at around 3:30. …It ended up being below-the-fold news that day. … And frankly it wasn’t until December when the national media started paying attention to what we had been saying for two months.”

Johnson compared the media to cattle. [He at least got that right!] “They all went off to the other end of the pasture to cover this 11-year-old video,” he said.

“We were dealing with a lot of crosscurrents in the election,” Johnson told “Frontline.” “We were very concerned that we would be perceived as taking sides. This was a time when Donald Trump was saying, ‘The election is going to be rigged.’ And in national security, there is naturally a great hesitancy about injecting ourselves into an ongoing political campaign.”

In fact, the Obama administration waited until after the election to specifically pinpoint Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s role in the hacking. Not until December did Obama retaliate, ordering the expulsion of 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and placing sanctions on Russian intelligence services.

It was too late. Trump had been elected president.

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