US president Donald Trump has revealed that in 2018 he authorized an attack on suspected-to-be-state-sponsored Russian internet trolls intent on disrupting the electoral process during Congressional elections.
In an interview with The Washington Post Trump claimed credit for a previously-reported but never-before-confirmed attack on the Internet Research Agency, the allegedly Moscow-controlled outfit that the Mueller Report found conducted a massive disinformation campaign ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s remarks to the Post were thin but seemingly substantiate other statements in which he has said the USA was aware of the 2016 misinformation campaign and had resolved to prevent a recurrence.
Trump has repeatedly stated a preference for being friendly to Russia to bring it into the fold, a stance that has seen him criticised for being inexplicably soft on an adversary. Revealing an attack addresses such criticism. It also gives Russia two things it’s always hard to find after a cyber-attack: certainty of attribution, and therefore a chance to observe the techniques used in the hope of better understanding US offensive capabilities and tradecraft.
Admitting to the strike also runs counter to Trump’s oft-stated position that his own brilliance was the reason for his election win, rather than outside influence. Taking on a troll farm to secure an election suggests Russia has real muscle. ®
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