President Donald Trump appeared to confirm that the United States had conducted a cyberattack against a Russian entity during last year’s midterm elections in an interview aired Sunday on Fox News.
“I would rather not say that, but you can believe that the whole thing happened, and it happened during my administration,” Trump told Fox News’ Steve Hilton when asked about a report that he personally authorized a cyberattack on Russia during the time of the midterms.
When pressed as to why he didn’t talk about it, Trump said “because they don’t like me to talk, intelligence says, ‘please don’t talk intelligence,’ you know sometimes intelligence is good, and sometimes you look at Comey, and you look at Brennan and you look at Clapper, and I’m supposed to believe that intelligence? I never believe that intelligence.”
The National Security Council did not respond to a CNN request for comment about what specifically the President was referencing.
“Nobody’s been tougher to Russia than me,” Trump said in response to criticism that he is a just a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump appears to be referencing an operation detailed last February in the Washington Post. The US military blocked access to a Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, during the midterms, several US officials told the paper. The operation against the company, which is bankrolled by an oligarch close to Putin, was carried out in order to prevent any interference in the midterms. The agency is blamed for much of the interference by Russia during the 2016 election.
The Post reported officials said Trump gave his approval to the general operation aimed at stopping Russia from interfering in a US election.
CNN’s Barbara Starr also reported in October 2018 that the US military’s Cyber Command had begun targeting Russian operatives believed to be attempting to influence the 2018 midterm elections as part of a broad effort in coordination with several government agencies, an administration official confirmed to CNN.
CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan and Dominique Robertson contributed to this story.