WASHINGTON — The White House threw shade at Congress today over the latest release of hacked materials, calling the document dump “an illustration of how it’s important for our policy makers to make cyber security a top priority and unfortunately the United States Congress has failed to do that.”
In addition to the Democratic National Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency admitted it was hacked as Olympians’ health information was disclosed. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s emails were hacked as well: of Hillary Clinton, he said “everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris”; Trump, he called a “national disgrace and an international pariah.”
House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) told CNN today that the Republican National Committee was also hacked, but couldn’t say what information was taken. After his appearance on the network, McCaul tweeted: “I misspoke by asserting RNC was hacked. What I meant to say was, in addition to DNC, Republican political operatives have also been hacked.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters he’d “seen the reports of the variety of cyber intrusions and leaks that have emerged in the last 24 hours or so.”
“The United States has not made a formal determination in public about who may or may not be responsible for these incidents,” Earnest said. “The motivation for each of them I think is likely different. I know that you asked about in the context of the election, but you know I’m not sure that reprehensible release of the personal health information of U.S. Olympians has anything to do with the election. It may have to do with some other things that have been well documented.
Saying that the hacks “serve as an illustration” that “there is more that Congress should do,” Earnest made a pitch for “a significant increase in funding for cyber security” in President Obama’s FY 17 budget “that would not just enhance our cyber capabilities but also improve our ability to work more effectively to investigate cyber intrusions when they occur.”
“As we’ve discussed in here many times, the Congress refused to even have a hearing on that budget,” he added. “And you know Republicans’ have essentially said their refusing to even talk about that proposal to enhance our cyber security. That’s unfortunate. That’s an indication that Republicans are failing to even discuss what should be a top national security priority, particularly given the widespread reports and the conclusion reached by some professionals outside the government that Russia is likely responsible.”
The press secretary noted “the good news, however, is that this administration has not just relied on Congress to take steps to try to protect the American people from cyber security.”
He proceeded to tout Obama’s summit with technology experts and national security figures, his executive order to impose sanctions on countries or individuals suspected of hacking involvement, and presidential efforts at international meetings “to establish internationally accepted norms when it comes to conduct in cyber space.”
“And we’ve gotten additional commitments from the Chinese with regard to some of those international norms. That enhances the security of the United States. And look, the time has come for Republicans in Congress to do their part, and we certainly would like to see them do more.”
Earnest emphasized comments last weekend by CIA Director John Brennan, who underscored Russia’s sophisticated cyber capabilities.
“So we have known this for quite a while. So I think this is an indication that the president and his national security team are not just keenly aware of the situation, but have taken aggressive steps to try to counter it, and we would welcome Republicans in Congress doing their part for a change,” Earnest said.
On CBS Face the Nation last Sunday, Brennan called Russia “a formidable adversary in a number of areas.”
“I think that we have to be very, very wary of what the Russians might be trying to do in terms of collecting, as well as — collecting information in that cyber-realm, as well as what they might want to do with it,” Brennan said.
This story was updated at 7:20 p.m. EST