Appearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee on Tuesday, the director of the National Security Administration and U.S. Cyber Command Mike Rogers said that the United States has done very little to prevent or dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from meddling in future elections and that President Trump has done nothing to grant him the authority to do more to retaliate against Putin for his interference in the 2016 presidential election or prevent more attacks from Russia in the future.
According to an article in the Washington Post, Admiral Rogers told the committee that the United States is “probably not doing enough” to combat the threat from Russia and that the sanctions currently imposed were not a “sufficient price” to get them to “change their behavior” or alter their plans for the future.
President Trump has been widely criticized for his response to the threat posed by Russian cyberattacks, even refusing to implement sanctions that had been almost unanimously voted on by both houses of Congress, saying that the idea of sanctions alone was already “serving as a deterrent” and that the sanctions themselves were not necessary at this time, according to an article in The Hill.
Trump has been loath to even admit that Russia was responsible for the hacking of the DNC in the lead-up to the 2016 election, according to a CNBC report, and has repeatedly tried to point the finger of blame at other parties.
Admiral Rogers’ words on Tuesday, however, are the most blunt admission to date by a United States government employee that the president has done little to direct his intelligence and security services to take the Russian threat seriously. Rogers is quoted in a Mother Jones report answering a question from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
“I believe that President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion that there’s little price to pay here…and that therefore I can continue this activity.”
The admiral then continued, according to the Washington Post, with a warning that he believed that Vladimir Putin and the Russians weren’t finished and have every intention to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections and beyond.
“What I see on the Cyber Command side leads me to believe that if we don’t change the dynamic here, that this is going to continue, and 2016 won’t be viewed as isolated. This is something that will be sustained over time.”
Rogers made his most telling admission when he was asked by both Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) if either President Trump or Defense Secretary James Mattis had given him the authority to do more to fight back against current and future Russian attacks, answering that they had not.
“I haven’t been granted any, you know, additional authorities, capacity and capability.”
Twitter users were quick to accuse President Trump of deliberately doing nothing or very little in the face of the continuing attacks from Russia.