President Donald Trump downplayed the seriousness of a massive cyberattack on the US government and suggested that China may have been responsible for it – even though other US officials are convinced Russia was the perpetrator.
In doing so, Saturday the Twitter, the president contradicted assessments by senior officials in his own administration who accused Moscow of intruding at least half a dozen federal agencies – including comments Friday night from Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.
Marco Rubio of Florida, acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, rejected Trump’s conclusion, calling the hack “the most serious cyber-intrusion in our history” and carried out by “Russian intelligence”.
Trump, however, in his first public comments on the hack originally reported on Dec. 13, said the incident was “much more prominent in Fake News Media than in reality.”
Bloomberg News reported on Saturday thatat least 200 organizations, including government agencies and businesses around the world, were hacked as part of the alleged Russian cyberattack.
“I have been fully informed and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia are the priority song when something happens because Lamestream is, for mainly financial reasons, petrified at the idea of discussing the possibility that it is China (that can!) ”
Cyber Hack is much more important in Fake News Media than in reality. I have been fully informed and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia are the priority song when something happens because Lamestream is, for mainly financial reasons, petrified by… .— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)December 19, 2020
Trump went on to suggest without evidence that there could also have been a “hit” to the country’s voting machines, in his latest attempt to cast doubt on his loss in the November presidential election.
Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted that Trump’s comment was a “scandalous betrayal of our national security” that “could have been written in the Kremlin.”
The Chinese government also dismissed the accusation, a spokesperson calling it “not serious and contradictory”.
“The US allegations against China have always been a politically motivated farce to smear and disparage China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing on Monday. “Such behavior and words are totally incompatible with the position of the United States as a great country.”
The president tagged Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe in his tweet, underlining his intention to contradict the assessment of administration officials who blamed Russia for the intrusion.
Pompeo on Friday described the hack as “a very significant effort” and said the United States could “say quite clearly that it was the Russians engaged in this activity.”
“There has been a significant effort to use third-party software to basically embed code into U.S. government systems, and now it looks like systems from private companies and corporations and governments around the world as well,” Pompeo said. to radio host Mark Levin. .
John Ullyot, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement that the council “is focusing on the circumstances surrounding this incident and working with our interagency partners to mitigate the situation.” He did not name the alleged perpetrator.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, headed by Trump ally Ratcliffe, also released a statement Wednesday calling the incident “significant.”
“This is a developing situation, and as we continue to work to understand the full extent of this campaign, we know that this compromise has affected networks within the federal government,” the DNI said in the statement.
More government agencies and large corporations have been affected by the hack, which installed what is known as a backdoor in widely used software from Texas-based SolarWinds Corp., which enabled hackers to access computer networks.
U.S. government agencies known to have been targeted included the departments of state, treasury, homeland security, energy and commerce. Microsoft Corp. said it has identified more than 40 customers targeted by hackers.
President-elect Joe Biden released a statement Thursday saying he would not stand idly by in response to the attack.
“I want to be clear: my administration will make cybersecurity a top priority at all levels of government – and we will make tackling this breach a top priority as soon as we take office,” Biden said. paragraph.)
– With the help of Colum Murphy.
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