Cruz: Russian Pentagon hack tied to Iranian meetings

The Russian cyberattack on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff unclassified email system may be tied to a top Iranian military official’s visit to Moscow, Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzCruz: Precedent exists for keeping Supreme Court short-staffed Commerce official will hit critics of domain name transition The media is rigging the election by reporting WikiLeaks emails MORE alleged during Thursday’s first Republican presidential debate.

In the only cybersecurity mention of the night, the Texas Republican was asked about recent reports that Russian hackers infiltrated the Pentagon’s Joint Staff unclassified email system around July 25.

Cruz questioned whether the cyberattack was timed to coincide with secretive meetings between Qassem Soleimani, a major general in the Iranian army, and Russian leaders in Moscow.

The meeting comes as Congress is debating whether to accept a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for lifting sanctions on Tehran.

“The day Soleimani flew back,” Cruz said, “was the day we believe Russia used cyber warfare against the Joint Chiefs.”

The intrusion has caused the Defense Department to pull down the email network for roughly 4,000 people. Officials have said they hoped it would be back up Thursday, nearly two weeks after the hackers were first spotted.

Cruz said the digital assault is a “consequence” of the Obama administration’s weak hand abroad.

“Leading from behind is a disaster,” he said.

The passive policy has allowed both Russia and China to wage “cyber warfare” against the U.S. with few ramifications.

While the issue of cybersecurity was quickly dispatched, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) couldn’t resist briefly jumping in as well.

“The Russian and Chinese government know more about Hillary Clinton’s email server than do the members of Congress,” he said, referring to the Democratic presidential frontrunner's private email server she maintained during her time as secretary of State.