In his first public comments since the widespread, ongoing cyber attack on federal departments in the US government and a number of fortune 500 companies, Donald Trump downplayed the impact of the hack, suggesting that it’s been blown out of proportion by the “Lamestream” media and questioning whether Russia was really behind it.
Trump tweeted on Saturday: “The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!).”
“There could also have been a hit on our ridiculous voting machines during the election, which is now obvious that I won big, making it an even more corrupted embarrassment for the USA,” he added
His tweets contradict government officials and cyber security experts who called the hack one of the broadest in recent memory. They also contradict his top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who said on Friday that Russia was “clearly” behind the hacking.
“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 said on Mark Levin’s show.
“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,” he added.
Trump has ignored calls from current and former top US officials to respond to the attack.
“I think the White House needs to say something aggressive about what happened. This is almost as if you had a Russian bomber flying undetected over the country, including over the nation’s capital, and not to respond in a setting like that is really stunning,” Sen. Mitt Romney said in an interview this week.
The top priority has got to be, if we determine it’s the Russians, that’s where the information tends to point, what the retaliation is going to be,” John Bolton, Trump’s former national security advisor, said, according to the Hill. “And I think it ought to be, whatever we assess what the cost we incur to be — plus, plus, plus. That’s how you reestablish deterrence.”
Hackers breached the software vendor SolarWinds, which works with multiple US government agencies, and had disguised the hack through software updates.
At least half a dozen federal agencies are now known to have been targeted, including the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber arm and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and State. Investigators are still trying to determine what, if any, government data may have been accessed or stolen in the hack, according to CNN.