The White House was set to accuse Russia of the devastating cyberattack on the US government's computer systems but was told at the last minute to stand down
- The White House was set to release a statement blaming Russia for the devastating cyberattack on the US government when officials were told to stand down, reported the Associated Press.
- The reason why the statement was canceled is not known.
- In a tweet, Trump said that China, not Russia, maybe responsible, contradicting his own secretary of state and top US officials.
- Trump has long refused to blame or confront Russia for aggressive behavior towards the US launched by the Kremlin.
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White House officials were preparing to issue a statement Friday saying Russia was likely to blame for the devastating cyberattack that saw hackers seize control of hundreds of US government computer networks but was told to stand down at the last minute, the Associated Press reported.
According to a US government official briefed on the conversations, the statement would have described Russia as the "main actor" behind the cyberattack.
It would have mirrored a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Friday, who in an interview with Mark Levin said that "we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity."
Instead, the White House statement was canceled, and Trump broke his silence on the issue. Without citing any evidence, Trump in a tweet claimed that China, not Russia, was likely behind the cyberattack.
"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," Trump tweeted. He also claimed the media are "petrified" of "discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!)."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has downplayed or sought to shift blame from Russia in response to hostile actions against the US.
In July, it was revealed that Trump had taken no action when briefed that Russia was paying militants in Afghanistan a bounty for killing US troops.
The president has consistently refused to unequivocally accept the evidence from US intelligence agencies finding Russia responsible for attempts to interfere with US elections, including the 2016 election.
The cyberattack was first reported last week, when it was revealed that Russian hackers had for months had access to sensitive information in US government agencies, including the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security.
The hackers gained access to the computers by infiltrating SolarWinds software, which then installed the malware in routine updates to hundreds of US government and corporate clients.
Trump's former homeland security advisor, Tom Bossert, in a New York Times op-ed warned that Russian hackers had likely seized control of hundreds of US government networks, and could alter or delete key data. He urged Trump to confront Russia about the attack.
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to take action in response to the cyberattack when he takes office.
"Our adversaries should know that, as President, I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation," he said Thursday.
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