There is no question that Russia is behind the recent hacking campaign against the United States, the head of the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence panel said on Sunday, warning that President Donald Trump’s effort to play down Moscow’s role and point to China was a threat to U.S. national security.
“Based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s any question that it was Russia,” House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff told MSNBC in an interview. “It just uniformly destructive and deceitful, and injurious … to our national security,” he said of Trump’s Saturday comments.
At the same time, the incoming White House chief of staff has said that President-elect Joe Biden’s response to the massive hacking campaign uncovered last week would go beyond sanctions.
Ron Klain said Biden was mapping out ways to push back against the suspected Russian hackers who have penetrated half a dozen U.S. government agencies and left thousands of American companies exposed.
“It’s not just sanctions. It’s steps and things we could do to degrade the capacity of foreign actors to engage in this sort of attack,” Klain said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Options being mulled by the Biden administration to punish Moscow over its alleged role include financial penalties and retaliatory hacks on Russian infrastructure, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters.
The Kremlin denies any role in the hacking. Speaking at an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence agency, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised its work, saying he was impressed by the “difficult professional operations that have been conducted.”
Biden, who becomes president on Jan. 20, would likely have bipartisan support for a muscular reaction to the espionage campaign, lawmakers indicated on Sunday.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney said the data breach was “extraordinarily damaging” on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“This demands a response,” he said. “This is something we have to address as soon as possible.”