Barr says Russia appears to be behind massive hack
Attorney General William Barr 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 Trump.
The attorney general said that he agrees with the assessment by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 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.
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.