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Warner says foreign adversaries 'gained more' from Capitol riot than from SolarWinds hack

Warner says foreign adversaries 'gained more' from Capitol riot than from SolarWinds hack
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert Warner'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed The Hill's Morning Report - Trump impeached again; now what? MORE (Va.), the top Democrat and likely incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that the nation’s adversaries “gained more” from rioters storming the Capitol than from the recently uncovered massive hack of the federal government. 

“If you walked around the floor of the Capitol and you see the destruction that took place in the last 24 hours, and you see the images around the world of what our democracy looks like, we all have got to step up,” Warner said at a virtual event hosted by the Aspen Institute. 

“The bad guys ... gained a lot more long-term out of what happened in the last 24 hours than they are going to gain from this SolarWinds intrusion,” he added. 

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Warner’s comments were made the day after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol complex, forcing an evacuation of both the House and Senate, and leading to four deaths. 

The attack on the Capitol took place as the federal government continues to grapple with the fallout of the discovery of an ongoing hack of IT company SolarWinds, which counts as customers many federal agencies and the majority of U.S. Fortune 500 companies. 

Agencies including the Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury departments have confirmed over the past month that they were compromised as part of the breach of SolarWinds software, which began in March. 

A coalition of federal intelligence agencies, on behalf of President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE, confirmed in a joint statement earlier this week that Russian hackers were “likely” behind the attack, with the confirmation coming after both Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoOn The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits Treasury imposes additional sanctions on Cuba over allegations of 'serious human rights abuse' MORE and former Attorney General William BarrBill BarrActing attorney general condemns Capitol riots, warns 'no tolerance' for violence at Biden inauguration Barr, White House counsel told Trump not to self-pardon: report Trump condemns riots, says he will focus on transition in taped remarks MORE separately said they believed Russia was responsible. 

Warner slammed the statement Thursday for “watering down” the attribution, and noted that the “number of brand-name players” also hit by the SolarWinds hack that have not come forward “would surprise the hell” out of many.

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“The images that have been conveyed around the world in the last 18 hours in every forum ... is a bigger gold mine and more priceless for Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBill Burns knows Russia inside out — and that will be critical to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Trump impeached again; now what? Overnight Defense: Trump impeached for second time | National Guard at Capitol now armed, swelling to 20K troops for inauguration | Alabama chosen for Space Command home MORE than anything Russia has obtained in this intrusion,” Warner said.

The Virginia Democrat, who currently serves as vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is likely to take over the panel after Democrats gained control of the Senate. He said that the committee has been briefed on the hack from agencies including the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. 

Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity group FireEye, which had its security tools stolen in the hack and first called attention to the incident, also spoke at the Aspen Institute event on Thursday. Mandia called for “criminal rules of engagement” in cyberspace in response to both the SolarWinds attack and a huge spike in ransomware and other cyberattacks during the past year.

“We have got to stop tolerating what’s happened over the last 12 months,” Mandia said. “2020, without a doubt, was the worst year for every chief information security officer in my 27 years of doing this.”