• Trump acknowledges for first time that in 2018, he okayed covert cyberattack against Russia's Internet Research Agency, St. Petersburg-based troll farm that led Russian attacks on 2016 U.S. presidential election, and on 2018 midterms.
Donald Trump, for the first time, confirmed the United States conducted a covert cyberattack in 2018 against Russia's Internet Research Agency, and intelligence experts say — yikes, he probably wasn't supposed to reveal that information.
But nothing matters.
Trump blurted it out in a puff piece interview in the Washington Post published Friday evening.
The Internet Research Agency is Vladimir Putin's military troll farm, and U.S. intelligence experts and the Mueller Report blame the entity for attacking the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2018 midterms.
Thiessen writes in the Post that during his interview he asked Trump whether he had launched a cyberattack. Thiessen said Trump replied, "Correct."
"Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have," the President told Thiessen. This is a lie.
Trump appeared to confirm that the US had conducted such a cyberattack against a Russian entity during the 2018 midterm elections in a June 2019 Fox News interview, but this is the first direct confirmation, reports Kevin Bohn at CNN:
Trump said during the interview that in 2016, then-President Barack Obama "knew before the election that Russia was playing around. 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 phony polls. So, he thought she was going to win. And we had the silent majority that said, 'No, we like Trump.' "
Trump claimed that unlike his predecessor, he acted on intelligence the US had about Russia's election interference by launching the cyberattack.
"Look, we stopped it," Trump told Thiessen.
Obama in December 2016 did announce sanctions against Russia and expelled some Russian diplomats in retaliation for Russia's interference in the US presidential election.
The Washington Post in October 2018 previously reported there was a cyberattack. The operation against the company, which is bankrolled by an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was carried out in order to prevent any interference in the midterms, the paper was told. This is, however, the first official confirmation from Trump.
Thiessen reports senior US officials also confirmed that the strike occurred and was effective, taking the Internet Research Agency offline.