In a stark rebuke to President Trump’s ambivalent response over Russia's hostile cyber activities against the United States, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley expressed disdain for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to initiate faux-diplomatic relations with the Trump administration.
While Haley appeared to support Trump’s naive calls for forming a cybersecurity taskforce with the Russians in the wake of reports suggesting that the Kremlin not only deployed hackers to infiltrate the emails of U.S. organization and peoples but engaged in an active campaign of spreading disinformation as a means of undermining the U.S. electoral process, the ambassador adamantly asserted that the United States of America “won't ever trust Russia.”
Russian hackers purportedly gained access “to state and local systems” even as the Department of Homeland Security took extra precautions to safeguard the U.S. voting process.
Ultimately, the Russians failed to tamper with the 2016 presidential vote despite gaining unprecedented access to voter databases, including voter registration information. The reason for Russia’s failure to directly tamper may be partly due to the fact that America’s voting system is decentralized across 7,000 local jurisdictions, which makes it nearly impossible to tamper with the vote without running into numerous computer and human safeguards at the local, county, and state levels.
When asked about Russia’s denial about being involved in election meddling, Haley insisted that the Russians were merely trying to “save face.”
"This is Russia trying to save face, and they can't, they can't," Haley told CNN Sunday. "Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections. Everybody knows that they're not just meddling in the United States' election. They're doing this across multiple continents, and they're doing this in a way that they're trying to cause chaos within the countries."
But despite the strong rebuke of Russia, Haley had a tougher time explaining why Trump himself didn’t confront Putin in the clearest possible terms during his meeting with the Russian leader at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
"What he did was bring up right away the election meddling, and he did that for a reason," Haley suggested. "One, he wanted him (Putin) to basically look him in the eye, let him know that, 'Yes, we know you meddled in our elections. Yes we know you did it. Cut it out.' And I think President Putin did exactly what we thought he would do, which is deny it."
Everybody's trying to nitpick what he says and what he doesn't, but talk is one thing, actions are another. He confronted President Putin. He made it the first thing that he talked about. And I think we have to now see where it goes from here.
Haley’s interview comes on the heels of the president’s first face-to-face meeting with Putin. According to administration officials, the two world leaders sat down behind closed doors and discussed a variety of topics, including Syria, Ukraine, and cyber security.