WASHINGTON — U.S. officials sought Wednesday to underscore for lawmakers the threat Russia posed to the 2016 vote for the White House, outlining efforts to hack into election systems in 21 states and to fill the internet with misinformation during a divisive campaign season.

Officials also revealed what appeared to be a breakdown in communications about how severe the threat appeared, and they reported tensions the Obama administration faced in trying to publicly warn of meddling in the face of a skeptical then-candidate Donald Trump.

“One of the candidates, as you’ll recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged in some way. And so we were concerned that, by making the statement, we might in and of itself be challenging the integrity of the – of the election process itself,” Jeh Johnson, the former head of the Homeland Security Department, told members of the House intelligence committee.

The testimony came during a morning of double-barreled intelligence committee hearings – one in the House and one in the Senate – that underscored the U.S. intelligence community’s months-old determination that Russia attempted to meddle in the election.

The issue has become a flashpoint for the Trump administration as congressional committees and a special counsel investigate the interference and whether the Trump campaign may have become enmeshed in it.

A day earlier, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said he still has yet to know the president’s thoughts on whether Russia interfered.