Trump Downplays Russian Cyberattack, Suggesting Without Evidence China Could Be Responsible
Contradicting administration officials, President Donald Trump on Saturday downplayed the Russian cyberattack on the U.S. government, suggesting without evidence that China was behind the historic breach that allowed hackers access to highly sensitive information for months.
Trump suggested that China might be behind the attack and that his administration had the hack “well under control.”
The president lashed out at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo following Pompeo’s Friday statement blaming the Russians for the months-long attacks.
Pompeo had publicly declared the operation as the most advanced hack ever levied against the U.S., which left a wide range of government entities, at all levels, as well as numerous corporations and nonprofits, exposed.
“This was a very significant effort, and I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” Pompeo said during an interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin, becoming the first administration official to pin the attack on Russia directly.
“I can’t say much more as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified. But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. Government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well,” Pompeo added.
U.S. officials indicated that the attack was highly sophisticated in nature. “This is a patient, well-resourced, and focused adversary that has sustained long duration activity on victim networks,” the State Department said in a press release.
Pompeo also defended Trump for not speaking out sooner on the attack.