Trump downplays impact of massive breach of government computer systems
U.S. President Donald Trump in his first comments about a widespread data breach across the U.S. government downplayed the seriousness and impact of the cyber espionage campaign, and questioned whether Russia was to blame.
“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality,” Trump said on Twitter on Saturday. “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!.”
Trump’s assertion that China may be behind the hacking spree, which has so far affected more than a half dozen federal agencies including the Commerce and Treasury Departments, runs counter to comments by his own Secretary of State and multiple lawmakers briefed on the matter.
“We can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday in an interview.
A State Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The cyber hack is like Russian bombers have been repeatedly flying undetected over our entire country,” Republican lawmaker Mitt Romney said in a tweet on Thursday.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement.
In his tweet, Trump tagged Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has yet to publicly comment on who is behind the massive data breach, which exploited a piece of software developed by network management firm SolarWinds that is widely used throughout the public and private sectors.
(Reporting by Christopher Bing; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Diane Craft and Andrea Ricci