Democrat Sen. Mark Warner (VA) said during an interview this week that President Donald Trump deserves credit for allowing the United States to “punch back” at and use its “offensive capabilities” against Russia’s cyber attacks. He also noted that Trump has made it a lot easier to take action against Russia than former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Warner, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made the remarks on PBS’s “Firing Line with Margaret Hoover,” which aired on Friday.
“There are two main issues: There is the integrity of the election infrastructure, and then there’s the disinformation campaigns,” Hoover said. “In your view, which is more important?”
“I think they’re equally important and I think we have gotten better in both areas,” Warner responded. “To give the Trump administration some credit here, [they allowed] for us to punch back in the cyber domain, which, both under Obama and Bush, we were reluctant to do.”
“You just said you want to give the Trump administration credit for going on the offense in the cyber domain,” Hoover responded. “There are reports that, in 2018, the United States took an offensive posture in cyber and actually was able to shut down Russian troll farms.”
“I’m not going to comment on the specifics,” Warner responded. “I can’t comment on things that fall into the intelligence realm, in terms of specific actions. What I can comment on is that President Trump made it easier for the United States government to use some of our offensive capabilities.”
“For decades in our country, we were afraid of going on offense on cyber because we were always afraid of cyber escalation,” Warner continued. “You shut down Moscow for 24 hours, you had a problem. You shut down New York for 24 hours, you have financial crisis that could permeate for months.”
“Consequently, I feel like, for many years, particularly our near-peer adversaries, like Russia and China — they were able to attack America in the cyber domain with very little fear of us punching back,” Warner concluded on the issue. “I think we’ve taken off some of those restraints. I think that is good, long term. We need to realize these challenges, particularly in the cyber domain, will be where the first shots of 21st century conflict will take place.”
NEW: Democrat Senator Mark Warner says Trump deserves credit for allowing U.S. officials “to punch back in the cyber domain” and use “offensive capabilities” against Russia over their cyber-attacks on the U.S., adds that Trump made it a lot easier to do than Bush or Obama did pic.twitter.com/lns5YinXZU
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 16, 2019
Contrary to the media’s narrative that the president is a Russian asset, the administration has taken dozens of substantial actions against Russia since taking power in 2017, including sanctions, expelling Russian diplomats from the U.S., arming Russia’s enemies, and condemning actions by Russia.
“After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, Ukrainian leaders desperately requested from President Barack Obama defensive anti-tank weapons systems that could fend off the invading Russian T-72 tanks in eastern Ukraine,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) wrote in an op-ed. “In 2015, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee — Democrats and Republicans — encouraged Obama to grant this request to help Ukraine defend itself. Obama refused. Soon after coming into office, Trump changed course, and the Ukrainians now have Javelin anti-tank weapons systems from the United States. Russian tank drivers have a lot more to worry about today.”
“The Trump administration has also replaced Obama’s reticence regarding U.S. troop deployments near Russia with a full embrace of the European Deterrence Initiative,” Sullivan continued. “In just more than two years in office, Trump has requested more than $17 billion for EDI compared with just $5 billion requested in Obama’s final three years in office. As a result, thousands of U.S. troops, along with other NATO allies, have deployed to Poland, the Baltics and Norway to deter further Russian expansion.”
Trump has also drawn praise from NATO for getting over $100 billion in extra resources secured for the organization, which is a major deterrent to Russian aggression.
“NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked US President Donald Trump for his strong leadership and commitment to the Alliance in a meeting at the White House on Thursday (14 November 2019),” NATO said in a statement this week. “Mr. Stoltenberg highlighted rising defence investment across European Allies and Canada, amounting to more than $100 billion extra in recent years, adding that Allies are determined to keep up the momentum.”