The U.S. carried out a cyberattack against Russia last year, President Donald Trump confirmed on Sunday.
During an interview with Fox News’ Steve Hilton, Trump said the cyberattack “happened during my administration.”
Watch the exchange below, which begins at approximately 4:08:
“It’s been reported this year that you personally authorized a cyberattack on Russia around the time of the midterms last year in order to stop them meddling in the midterm elections,” Hilton said. “Is that true?”
“I would rather not say that, but you can believe that the whole thing happened, and it happened during my administration,” Trump replied.
Hilton asked Trump why he hasn’t discussed taking such action.
Trump said, “Because they don’t like me to talk, intelligence says, ‘Please don’t talk intelligence.’ You know sometimes intelligence is good, and sometimes you look at [former FBI director James] Comey, and you look at [former CIA director John] Brennan and you look at [former director of National Intelligence James] Clapper, and I’m supposed to believe that intelligence? I never believe that intelligence.”
Hilton mentioned Trump’s actions against Russia in light of accusations that he’s “Putin’s puppet.”
“Nobody’s been tougher to Russia than me,” Trump said.
“They don’t like me to talk,” he says regarding US intell-but he did anyway. Trump says “I would rather not say” but then goes on and seems to confirm US did cyber attack against Russia in the midterms: “the whole thing happened.” https://t.co/MfyOE3sOYj
— Kevin Bohn (@KevinBohnCNN) May 20, 2019
During the November midterm elections, a report indicated that the Pentagon had collaborated with intelligence agencies with a cyberattack plan against Russia.
The Pentagon reportedly granted approval to U.S. military hackers to breach Russian networks and unleash their offensive cyberattack plan, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) at the time.
The report did not specify details of the cyberattack, but mentioned that the attack would be triggered by direct evidence of Russian interference – beyond “malign influence … trying to sway peoples’ opinion or the way people might vote,” a senior official told CPI.
Just a month earlier, a CNN report revealed that the U.S. Cyber Command had targeted Russian operatives suspected of attempting interference campaigns in the midterm elections.
Among the actions taken by Cyber Command were phishing messages, messages of warning from public officials, and other efforts intended to impede Russian interference.
The cyber campaigns took place after Trump announced a White House cyber strategy in September 2018 – the first released in 15 years – which included an aggressive offensive and counter-offensive framework that permitted the U.S. to carry out attacks on foreign adversaries.
The strategy detailed the capabilities of China and Russia, emphasizing the need for a more progressive approach at countering widespread interference activities, instead of retroactively dealing with breaches and disinformation campaigns.