Trump downplays Russian hack in first comments on massive breach, implicates China

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump commented for the first time on Saturday on the hacking campaign that has torn through U.S. government and businesses that many experts believe is the work of Russian intelligence and downplayed the security breach as well as attempted to deflect blame away from Russia.

Trump’s comments contradict what members of his own government have said about the hack and it is the latest example of his unwillingness to criticize Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies have said interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump.

“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control. 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 wrote on Twitter.

Trump also baselessly claimed on Twitter that the attack could have impacted voting machines, continuing his campaign to discredit the election results. Twitter immediately flagged the president’s tweet, directing users to other sources of information on the election results.

U.S. intelligence agencies and experts have not linked China to this hack, which began at least as early as March, though it was discovered only last week. Trump did not provide any information in his tweet as to why he believes China could be involved.

The hack is being described as one of the most successful cyber infiltrations of U.S. government and corporate institutions in history.

Just hours before Trump’s tweet, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a close ally of the president, said in interview on the “Mark Levin Show” that he believed Russia was behind the hack.

“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,” Pompeo said. “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.”

When asked if Trump would speak out during the investigation, Pompeo said sometimes the “wiser course of action to protect the American people is to calmly go about your business and defend freedom.”

Trump has been criticized by President-elect Joe Biden for letting the massive security breach happen under his watch and for his past silence on the issue.

“We need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyber attacks in the first place,” Biden said in a statement earlier this week. “Our adversaries should know that, as president, I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation.”

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