Cheney: Russian election interference could be ‘act of war’

Cheney: Russian election interference could be ‘act of war’
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Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election could be considered an “act of war” against the U.S. 

“There’s no question there was a very serious effort made by Mr. [Vladimir] Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic fundamental democratic processes,” Cheney said Monday during a speech at the Economic Times’ Global Business Summit 2017 in New Delhi. 

“In some quarters, that would be considered an act of war. I think it’s a kind of conduct and activity we will see going forward. We know he’s attempted it previously in other states in the Baltics,” Cheney said, according to video of the remarks. 

Some Democratic lawmakers charged last week that Russia’s election meddling amounted to an act of war, and others have accused Moscow of “attacking” the United States through its hacking.

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“I actually think that their engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare, and I think that’s why the American people should be concerned about it,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian election interference last Monday.

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Healthcare: Trump pressures GOP ahead of vote | McConnell urges Senate to start debate | Cornyn floats conference on House, Senate bills | Thune sees progress on Medicaid Overnight Healthcare: Trump pressures GOP ahead of healthcare vote | Study: Adding 0 billion to health bill not enough | McConnell urges Senate to start ObamaCare repeal debate Tuesday Senate GOP: McCain may return for ObamaCare vote Tuesday MORE (R-Ariz.) also said back in December that Russia’s actions amounted to an act of war. 

Still, experts have cautioned against making such accusations. The U.S. government does not currently have a definition of what actions in cyberspace would necessitate a military response. 

Cheney on Monday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having “designs” on the Baltic states. NATO has recently deployed forces to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland in the wake of Moscow’s aggressive activity in Ukraine.

“Another aspect of Mr. Putin’s conduct is the issue that is now very much in the headlines at home, and that has to do with cyber warfare, cyberattack on the United States — the fact that he took his capabilities in the cyber area and used it to try to influence our election,” Cheney said.

While the former vice president emphasized that there is no argument that President Trump’s election was “not legitimate,” he said Americans should be mindful of Putin’s actions.

“I would not underestimate the weight that we Americans assign to the Russian attempts to interfere with our internal political processes,” Cheney said. 

The FBI has been investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the election, including looking at any possible coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow, FBI Director James Comey revealed last week.

The intelligence community concluded in January that Russia waged a cyber and disinformation campaign to undermine the U.S. democratic process, damage Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonCruz being considered to replace Sessions: report Trump cuts loose in front of massive crowd at Boy Scouts' Jamboree Press: Amateur hour at White House MORE and aid Trump.