Over the weekend, President Trump downplayed a serious cyberattack aimed at several US federal government agencies. Not only is the downplaying of this attack a strange approach to take, but also contradicts what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said about the hack.
In a public address, Pompeo linked the hack to Russia and when President Trump contradicted him and blamed China, the administration was thrown into chaos, trying to make sense of the competing statements.
Pompeo said, in no uncertain terms, that this was a significant effort by forces linked to Russia. Officials in government were in agreement about this fact.
A matter of he said he said
Pompeo said this during an interview on Friday, on ‘The Mark Levin Show.’ He added that he couldn’t say much more as the relevant authorities are still unpacking the mess, asserting that most of what they find, will most likely remain classified.
However, Trump, in his first public comment on the attack, seemed to undercut Pompeo. He chose his preferred mode of communication, tweets.
He suggested, without any evidence at all, that China could be responsible for the attack and avoided condemning the attack or Russia. He added that he was fully briefed and everything was under control, despite officials saying that the attack poses a grave risk to both public and private sector networks.
Stand down, said the president
White House officials already had a statement assigning blame to Russia for the attack and were going to release it on Friday afternoon. However, they were told to stand down, with no reason why they should pull back.
The statement placed blame on Russia as the orchestrator behind the attack, while leaving open the possibility that there could have been other actors in the operation.
Trump claimed, with no evidence again, that the attack could have impacted US voting machines.