At the time, Russia's comprehensive campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election was unparalleled in scope and years in the making, but Russia's hack of SolarWinds and their customers including the federal government could be even bigger.
We're still learning new details about Russia's latest hack that began early this year and lasted through this month but, in both cases, Trump has run interference and misdirection for Russia by pointing fingers in other directions. In both cases, Trump has now contradicted his own appointees in the federal government including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Trump also reportedly overruled his closest communications staff.
"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," Pompeo had said of the cyber hack in an interview Friday on "The Mark Levin Show," adding: "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 Trump, in his first public comments on the issue, appeared to undercut Pompeo's remarks in a pair of tweets Saturday, suggesting without evidence "it may be China" that's responsible. Instead of condemning the attack, or Russia, he wrote that he had been "fully briefed and everything is well under control" -- despite officials in his administration having said this week that the cyberattack "poses a grave risk" to networks across both the public and private sector.
White House officials had drafted a statement assigning blame to Russia for the attack and were preparing to release it Friday afternoon but were told to stand down, according to people familiar with the plans. Officials initially weren't told why the statement was pulled back.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I don't think we need to speculate to any great degree.
Trump was elected to office with the help of Russia. He's defending Putin's regime now for the same reason that he defended them in 2017. He wants to have good relations with Russian businessmen once he's out of office next month and that requires a good relationship with Putin. Russia's government and their economy operates like an organized crime family and that's something Trump has always understood and sought to emulate here in the United States. None of this feels like a big secret.
This is what it means to have a president who is both financially and morally compromised. It means having a president who is fundamentally opposed to defending his own citizens if doing so would interfere with his own personal priorities and relationships.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed today that the Treasury was also compromised and outgoing Attorney General William Barr also pointed a finger at Russia.
Speaking to CNBC, Steve Mnuchin acknowledged that the hackers had penetrated Treasury’s unclassified network but downplayed the severity of the intrusion.
“We do not see any break in into our classified systems,” he said. “Our unclassified systems did have some access. I will say that the good news is there has been no damage, nor have we seen any large amounts of information displaced.” [...]
Attorney General Bill Barr on Monday became the latest Trump loyalist to break with the outgoing president, telling a news conference that he agreed with Pompeo’s assessment that Russia was responsible: “It certainly appears to be the Russians but I am not going to discuss it beyond that.”
I do not feel confident in Mnuchin's assessment that no information was stolen.