Ex-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson defends Obama handling of Russian meddling

Jeh Johnson said DHS didn't want to take sides in 2016 election.

"We have to carefully consider whether declassifying the information compromises sources and methods," Johnson said under grilling in a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, adding, "There was an ongoing election. Many would criticize us for perhaps taking sides in the election. So that had to be carefully considered."

Johnson further explained that the October release of behind-the-scenes video from "Access Hollywood," in which Trump was recorded making derogatory sexual comments about women, distracted from the eventual statement on the interference.

The former secretary outlined a timeline of steps he took to alert election officials of a threat, saying that state-level officials were notified in August and that public statements were made that month, as well as in September, and twice in October.

"This was an ongoing effort to inform the public about everything we were in a position then to tell the public," said Johnson.

Johnson portrayed the situation as one in which there was bound to be contention, given the two-sided nature of U.S. politics.