Russian agents appear to have attempted to hack into the firm that employs some of Joe Biden’s top advisors. And President Trump’s administration is signaling they’re just fine with that.
Reuters reported Thursday that suspected Russian state-backed hackers recently targeted staff at SKDKnickerbocker, one of the largest Democratic firms in the country. The attempts, made over the last two months, were thwarted, and the company was alerted by Microsoft.
But the Trump administration seems just fine with those efforts to undermine democracy to help reelect the president. On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee released a whistleblower complaint from a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security who claimed that the acting secretary of the DHS and other senior officials demanded that he stop providing intelligence analysis on Russia’s attempts to meddle in the election, and retaliated against him when he refused.
Both a bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee and key members of the Intelligence Community have warned that Russia will seek to interfere in the 2020 elections, just as it did to boost Trump in 2016. But Trump has continued to deny that reality, and his aides have pushed the false claim that Iran and China are just as active in looking to undermine Trump as Russia has been to boost Trump.
A top Department of Homeland Security official said in a whistleblower complaint released Wednesday that he was asked to quash the department’s intelligence on Russian attempts to interfere in the election in spite of the facts. Brian Murphy, who led the department’s intelligence and analysis efforts, said he was retaliated against by political appointees when he refused.
The Trump administration is also refusing to brief Congress in-person on intelligence regarding foreign interference in the election, a reversal of a longstanding policy that means only those in the Trump administration can see the full extent of foreign countries’ involvement in the election, as well as domestic terror threats. Both Biden’s campaign and Democrats in Congress will likely be left in the dark to any serious threats from Russia.
These efforts appear to be all but a direct invitation from Trump’s administration to Russia to meddle to help boost his chances in November — and further damage American democracy in the process.
The Trump administration’s seeming decision to look the other way as Russia looks to interfere in yet another election to boost the president’s reelection chances so concerned Dan Coats, Trump’s own former Director of National Intelligence, that he told the Washington Post that “Putin ought to be very happy with the way this is turning out.”
“It’s imperative that the intelligence community keep Congress fully informed about the threats to our elections and share as much information as possible while protecting sources and methods,” Coats said on Wednesday.