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Barr says Russia appears to be behind massive hack

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrPolitics in the Department of Justice can be a good thing Majority of Republicans say 2020 election was invalid: poll Biden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete case MORE on Monday said that Russia is likely behind the unprecedented hack into multiple federal agencies and thousands of private entities, becoming the second senior administration official to place the blame on Moscow in contradiction to statements by President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE

The attorney general said that he agrees with the assessment by Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo not ruling out 2024 White House bid Houthis: US sanctions prolonging war in Yemen China plays the Trump card, but Biden is not buying it MORE that the Russians were likely behind the hack into the third-party software developer SolarWinds that allowed access to government agencies and raised fury in Congress over whether such an attack amounted to an act of war. 

“From the information I have, I agree with Secretary Pompeo’s assessment, it certainly appears to be the Russians but I’m not going to discuss it beyond that,” Barr said at a news conference.

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The remarks by the attorney general, who is expected to step down from his post on Wednesday, contradict statements from Trump over the weekend that downplayed the severity of the SolarWinds hack and raised the possibility that China, not Russia, was responsible. 

The president’s remarks came as a rebuke of Pompeo, who had said Friday in an interview that Russia was “pretty clearly” behind the hack, becoming the first senior official to publicly assign blame on Moscow.

Multiple federal agencies were compromised by the hack, which was acknowledged early last week, into the third-party software developer SolarWinds. The agencies compromised include the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department. 

National security officials are scrambling to understand the full extent of the hack and the risk posed to U.S. security, where cyber intruders are believed to have entered federal agencies as far back as March.