Trump confirms US cyber attack on Russia election trolls
US president confirms his administration launched a successful campaign against the Internet Research Agency
Donald Trump has confirmed that the US conducted a covert cyber attack against Russia's Internet Research Agency ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
Trump told The Washington Post his administration was successful in preventing Russian meddling in its political elections, the first time the president has acknowledged the attack.
During an interview, Trump was asked if he had launched a cyber attack on the Internet Research Agency and he replied "correct", according to Marc Thiessen. When pushed further on the matter, Trump reportedly replied: "Look, we stopped it."
The Internet Research Agency is a notorious troll farm that is believed to have helped facilitate Russian-state interference in the 2016 presidential election. At the time, then-president Barack Obama announced sanctions against Russia and expelled some of its US diplomats in retaliation. Until recently, Trump has largely stayed quiet on Russian interference.
Despite Obama's swift action in 2016, Trump suggested he didn't do anything in order to protect the democratic candidate.
"He knew before the election that Russia was playing around," Trump said. "Or, he was told. Whether or not it was so or not, who knows? And he said nothing. And the reason he said nothing was that he didn't want to touch it because he thought (Hillary Clinton) was winning because he read phoney polls. So, he thought she was going to win. And we had the silent majority that said, 'No, we like Trump'".
Although this is the first acknowledgement from Trump, Thiessen reported that senior US officials also confirmed that the attacks occurred and that they were "effective" in taking the Internet Research Agency offline.
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Trump said that the attack was part of a broader strategy to confront Russia, claiming: "Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have." The president has made similar remarks before and even suggested, though not specifically confirmed, cyber attacks on the country.
"I would rather not say that, but you can believe that the whole thing happened, and it happened during my administration," he told Fox News in 2019 when asked about state-interference on the 2018 midterms.
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