Today, the Obama administration officially responded to Russia’s state-sponsored hacking of our election. We ejected 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S., closed two of their offices, sanctioned two of their intelligence services, and four of their top officers. It is the strongest response ever to a state-sponsored cyber-attack on our country or our nation’s interests. What was Trump’s response? Read on, because it will blow you away.
GRIZZLY STEPPE – The U.S. Codename for the Russian hackings
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a 13-page joint analysis report today (JAR-16-20296), detailing “the tools and infrastructure used by the Russian civilian and military Intelligence Services (RIS) to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election.” This code name for this malicious cyber activity is GRIZZLY STEPPE.
In conjunction with “technical indicators from the U.S. Intelligence Community, DHS, FBI, the private sectors, and other entities,” the report confirms “that two different RIS actors participated in the intrusion into a U.S. political party,” one in summer 2015 and the other this spring. The report includes the names of the hacker organizations, samples of code and malware that they used, and strategies to protect against future attacks.
In short, the United States has officially stated, in writing, that Russia engaged in state-sponsored cyberattacks on the United States, with the express purpose of influencing the 2016 election.
The Obama administration officially sanctions Russia.
Falling right on the heels of the release of the above report, Mr. Obama issued a statement reading (emphasis added)
Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election. These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.
All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions. In October, my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process. These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year. Such activities have consequences. Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response.
I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners. Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations. In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information. The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives. Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity, to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.
Check and mate?
It’s a brilliant chess move in Mr. Obama’s end-game with Trump. If the President-Elect supports these sanctions, then he will be breaking with his 18-month-long non-stop opposition of anything and everything the Obama administration does. Given that he almost daily calls Mr. Obama weak and ineffective, Trump can not approve of these actions.
But if he opposes them, saying that we should not be sanctioning Russia, then he is essentially complicit with the hacking. He is already one foot in the grave of tacitly approving of the state-sponsored cyber-espionage, by continually refusing to accept that Russia had any involvement, let alone to condemn Russia given the overwhelming evidence that we have stacked up against them.
The one other move is to further criticize Mr. Obama for being a weak leader, demanding an even stronger reaction against Russia. This seems far fetched, given the increasingly-complicated web of money and contact that we are uncovering between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. And although he himself vigorously insists he’s “no puppet…”
…Trump is by all measures a puppet to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
So what was Trump’s response?
“I think we ought to get on with our lives,” he told reporters, when asked by reporters last night about impending sanctions. A few hours after the sanctions were formally announced, Trump reiterated the same flaccid response, “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.” It was probably very hard for him to choke down the rest, saying “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”
Wow. Don’t do us any favors, Trump.
Now draw your own conclusions, America.
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