After the meeting, Trump said nothing about the attack, which was not discovered by his administration’s intelligence agencies for several months. With these agencies now mobilized to assess the damage – which the government said Thursday could be more widespread than initially thought, posing a “grave risk to the federal government” – the president himself remains mum on the matter, preoccupied instead with his electoral loss and Invented allegations of widespread voter fraud.
The massive data breach, revealed in the final weeks of the Trump administration, amounts to a dramatic level for the presidency clouded by questions of respect for Russia and failed attempts to cement ties with its president, Vladimir Putin. Just as he has largely ignored the recent spike in coronavirus cases, Trump appears to have nearly relinquished responsibility in his final weeks in office.
The White House has not included an intelligence briefing about the president’s daily schedule since early October, although officials say he is regularly briefed on intelligence even when an official briefing does not appear in his calendar. A senior White House official told CNN that Trump was As well. His top intelligence officials briefed him on the hack on Thursday.
An official from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security said members of President-elect Joe Biden’s staff had been briefed by officials on the massive intervention. Biden himself was also given details in his secret daily briefing, which was included in his public schedule every day this week.
The widespread and unusual intrusion by suspected Russian hackers of US government systems launched a technician’s soul-searching mission among senior government cyber officials and outside experts about how this months-long cyber campaign has managed to go undetected for so long.
It was only Wednesday night that the US government officially acknowledged that the ongoing online campaign was still active. This revelation comes at a particularly fraught time during a divisive presidential transition period and after elections that were, by all accounts, free from foreign interference.
It is unclear when, if, and if Trump had been notified of the latest breach, if it did. Nor is it clear to what extent Trump was involved in the response. He left all public replies to members of his government and administration. Despite the healthy pace of his tweets about the election results and his false allegations of voter fraud, he did not release any message about the hack.
Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah who has been a frequent critic of Trump, said Thursday that it was “amazing” that Trump had not yet responded.
“I think the White House needs to say something aggressive about what happened,” Romney said. “It is as if you have a Russian bomber flying over the country undetected, including over the country.”
Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien cut off a trip to Europe to return to Washington to attend urgent meetings on the breach earlier this week, and the White House held daily discussions with the National Security Agency regarding the intrusion, according to people familiar with the matter. With this issue.
The case was briefed by the House and Senate intelligence committees on Wednesday, but lawmakers have since made clear that there are still more questions than answers.
Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN Thursday, “The dirty truth is that most entities don’t know they’ve been hacked.”
Senate Republicans said Thursday they see no problem with Trump’s silence as his administration works to get to the heart of the matter.
“There’s still information gathering, so I’m warning anyone who comes to conclusions or makes statements until it’s all over,” said Senate intelligence chief Marco Rubio. “I think there is a lot to be learned about this. I would warn anyone against talking too much about something when there are still so many facts being gathered.
‘A very big deal’
Senator Josh Hawley, who sits in the Senate for the Armed Forces, says he has not been briefed about the hack. “I am fine with what they said publicly,” he said of management. “It’s a pretty big deal. We definitely need to know more … I’m really worried about it.”
When asked whether Trump should address this publicly, Hawley said: “I think the most important thing is to get the report published and let us know the extent of the violation. They might try to find out.”
While Trump did not say anything about the attack, his former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, urged the president in an opinion piece to formally assign responsibility, and if Russia confirms behind it, “make it clear to Vladimir Putin that these measures are unacceptable.”
Trump is also threatening to veto the National Defense Authorization Act over a provision requiring the renaming of military bases named to Confederate leaders and because he wants to add a clause to reform the liability laws of social media companies like Twitter. The defense policy bill includes provisions that will help the United States government counter cyber threats.
“We have provisions in the bill that he needs in the event of hacking and cyber threats out there,” Senate Armed Forces Chief Jim Inhove said of Trump and the NDAA, who has sponsored it. But Inhove, who has been briefed on the hack, said he would not criticize Trump for failing to speak out.
Senator Tim Kane, a Democrat on the committee, has not been informed yet, but said he is trying to prepare one for himself on Friday.
“I think he should, but frankly I don’t think he will,” said Kane, when asked whether Trump should handle the matter aggressively. “I don’t think we’ll likely get a straight answer about the depth of this and what we must do to counter it until the new administration takes office.”
As features of the data breach continue to emerge, the incident highlights just how little Trump has made efforts to put Putin on trial to improve relations with Moscow over the past four years. Even as his advisers frustrated by delaying punitive measures and trying to befriend his Russian counterpart, Trump is ending his tenure in the face of Russia’s most brazen attempt to date to penetrate US systems.
This is very similar to the way Trump began his presidency, when US intelligence agencies assessed that Russia worked to influence the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf. The president’s unwillingness to confront Russia on that front, or to direct any warnings to Putin not to intervene again, has fueled the impression among his critics that he is tolerant of Putin.
Trump’s tweet in 2017, after his first meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G7 meeting in Hamburg, has now become an example of the gullibility with which many in Congress and even within the administration say Trump has approached Russia.
He wrote at the time: “Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cybersecurity unit so that election piracy and many other negative things are protected,” an idea that was mocked at the time and never paid off.
While Putin was one of the last world leaders to recognize Biden as the winner of the US election, he finally acknowledged the victory of the president-elect this week, saying in a message that he was “ready to communicate and interact with you.”
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin said on Wednesday, “We need a sincere reset in the relations between the United States and Russia.” “We cannot be friends with Vladimir Putin and have him simultaneously carry out this kind of cyber attack on America. This is actually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States, and we must take it seriously.”
It was not only election interference that failed to elicit the president’s indictment. He did not raise with Putin the issue of Russia offering bonuses to American soldiers in Afghanistan when he spoke to him over the summer – another issue that Trump claimed was never included in his intelligence briefings, although officials said it was included in a written briefing from February.
After several US soldiers were injured in Syria after what the Pentagon described as “deliberate provocative and aggressive behavior” by Russian forces, Trump did not respond. And in October, even after the European Union and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on six senior Russian officials close to Putin for poisoning Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Trump did not.
Bolton listed a host of actions the administration took against Russia, saying that Trump “described them as major achievements, but nearly all of them caused opposition, or at least grumblings and protracted grievances from Trump himself.”
Always frustrated with what he called “Russia’s hoax,” Trump accused his opponents of trying to impede good relations with Moscow as they sought to investigate the links between his campaign and Russian interference in the elections.
So annoyed that Trump has become so annoyed about mentioning Russian misdeeds that, in the past, he has resisted intelligence warnings about Russia, which has led to prominent members of the national security portfolio – including those who delivered the president’s daily briefing – briefing him a lot on Russia-related matters. Threats to the United States, several former Trump administration officials told CNN.
When his oral intelligence report included information related to Russia’s malicious activities against the United States, Trump often questioned the intelligence itself.
Alex Marquart, Zachary Cohen, Brian Fung, Jennifer Hansler and Caitlan Collins of CNN contributed to this report.