Top US general: Trump admin lacks unified effort to combat Russia cyber threat

Top US general: Trump admin lacks unified effort to combat Russia cyber threat
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The head of U.S. European Command said Thursday that the U.S. government does not have an effective unified effort to confront cyber threats from Russia.

“I don't believe there's an effective unification across the interagency with the energy and the focus that we could attain,” Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told lawmakers during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Scaparrotti, who is also the supreme allied commander of NATO, had been asked by the committee’s top Democrat Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Senate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one Schumer: Trump should cancel meeting with Putin MORE (R.I.) how he would assess the country’s “whole-of-government response” to confront Russia’s cyber threat.

The general also said that the Pentagon is trying to map out the scope of Russian cyber activity, but so far does not have a full picture of the activity.

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“We’re getting better understanding of it,” he said. “I would not characterize it as a - as a good picture at this point, not satisfactory to me."

Reed also asked Scaparrotti whether he has noticed Russia directly targeting the United States with cyber and information warfare.

Scaparrotti replied that he had seen Russian activity related to “infrastructure, reconnaissance, et cetera within the United States,” but would not offer further details.

U.S. intelligence agencies have found that Moscow sought to influence the 2016 presidential election by hacking and using social media to spread false or misleading information, something Russia denies.

Trump administration officials are now warning that Russia is trying to interfere in the midterm elections later this year.

During the Senate hearing Thursday, Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseChristine Todd Whitman: Trump should step down over Putin press conference GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki GOP senator: Senate should be 'disgusted' by Helsinki summit MORE (R-Neb.) called out the Trump administration for failing to address Russian cyber threats.

“You and your colleagues end up taking a lot of the beating for what is really a failure of political leadership in both the legislative and executive branches and both parties,” Sasse told Scaparrotti.

“In the current moment with Russian attacks, the current administration has no real response. The legislature is not nearly serious ... enough about this issue.”

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Memo: Summit fallout hits White House Graham: Biggest problem is Trump ‘believes meddling equals collusion’ Obama, Bush veterans dismiss Trump-Putin interpreter subpoena MORE (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services panel who is in his home state for brain cancer treatment, issued a statement during the hearing saying that Russia’s “interference in democracies near and far is designed to undermine our confidence in our own institutions.”

“If we continue to allow Russian provocation—from its invasion of Ukraine to its development anti-access/area denial capabilities in Kaliningrad to its violation of the INF Treaty to its interference in elections—to go unanswered, we are teaching Mr. Putin a very dangerous lesson,” McCain said.