Bright shiny Donald Trump reality TV lights blinded the press and public to the fact that Russia was tampering with their presidential election, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson today told the House Intel Committee.

“In 2016 the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyber attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election. That is a fact, plain and simple,” he testified Wednesday.

Committee ranking Dem, Rep. Adam Schiff wondered why, when the Wikileaks dump launched in July, Obama administration did not send official word a foreign adversary was trying to influence election until October. Johnson pushed back on the foot dragging notion, calling it a “big decision” requiring a “lot of consideration.”

“There was an ongoing election” and the agency did not want to appear to be “taking sides,” Johnson said, adding later, “Every big national homeland security decision I’ve made, in my time, somebody always criticizes you for doing and somebody else criticizes you for for not doing it sooner.”

DHS did not want to insert itself into a “very heated campaign” in which Donald Trump “was predicting that the election was going to be rigged,” Johnson said, of the Celebrity Apprentice star’s public outrage his White House race would be determined by the electoral college rather than straight popular vote favored by reality TV competition series.

Johnson also expressed a state of irk that the announcement of Russia’s tampering got blown off the front page by WaPo’s near simultaneous release of an old Access Hollywood hot-mic tape. In that tape, reality-TV star Trump is heard boasting to AH host Billy Bush, he’s now so famous he can grab women by the “p*ussy” with impunity.

“It did not get the public attention it should have, frankly, because, the same day, the press was focused on release of the Access Hollywood video.  That made our news below the fold that day,” Johnson said sadly.