Sen. Mitt Romney says a newly discovered massive hack into government data was the high-tech equivalent of “Russian bombers repeatedly flying undetected over the entire country.”
And he is blasting President Donald Trump for not protesting or punishing Russia for it.
“Not to have the White House aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action is really quite extraordinary,” Romney told OlivIer Knox on SirusXM radio on Thursday.
In a tweet, Romney also called the silence and inaction by Trump “inexcusable.”
He explained on Sirius that while Russia was not dropping bombs, their hack showed “that our cyber warfare readiness is extraordinarily weak, that they think so little of our ability to fight back from a cyber standpoint that they do this with impunity.”
In short, he said it shows that “our national security is extraordinarily vulnerable.”
Romney made the comments after The Associated Press reported this week that some of America’s most deeply held secrets may have been stolen in a disciplined, monthslong operation being blamed on elite Russian government hackers.
It raised questions about whether hackers could have obtained data ranging from nuclear secrets to COVID-19 vaccine data. Officials said it may take weeks to years for digital sleuths to determine exactly what was accessed and stolen.
U.S. government agencies, including the Treasury and Commerce departments, were among dozens of public- and private-sector targets known to have been infiltrated as far back as March through a commercial software update distributed to thousands of companies and government agencies worldwide. The Defense Department said it had used the software, but doubted it was hacked.
Trump, whose administration has been criticized for eliminating a White House cybersecurity advisor and downplaying Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, has made no public statements about the breach.
President-elect Joe Biden has said his incoming administration “will make dealing with this breach a top priority from the moment we take office.”
Romney said Thursday that it is “past time for a national security reset that prioritizes cybersecurity capabilities and defenses.”
Romney, of course, is known as one of few Republican leaders who has been outspoken in his criticism of Trump. He was the first GOP senator to congratulate Biden as the winner in the presidential election as Trump continues to challenge that result. Romney also was the only Republican senator to vote to remove Trump from office in the impeachment trial.
The president in turn has often criticized Romney.
At a Pennsylvania rally late in his campaign, Trump called Romney “our worst senator,” and said, “Romney couldn’t be elected dogcatcher in Utah right now.” At an earlier news conference, Trump also said, “I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney. ... I don’t really want his advice.”