White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien held a call on Tuesday with his counterparts in an international intelligence sharing alliance to discuss the suspected Russian cyberattack on US government agencies and propose a joint statement condemning the breach, according to a senior administration official and two officials from the other nations.
O’Brien’s proposal for the countries to put out a joint statement of condemnation comes as President Donald Trump has tried to downplay the attack, saying in a tweet on Saturday that the media is making it a bigger deal than it is.
The US, UK Canada, Australia and New Zealand are the so-called Five Eyes alliance that shares a broad range of intelligence in one of the world’s tightest multilateral arrangements. Microsoft, which was hit by the hack as well, said in a statement that the attack was “effectively an attack on the United States” but added that other Five Eyes countries were also impacted: Canada and the United Kingdom.
“While roughly 80% of these customers are located in the United States, this work so far has also identified victims in seven additional countries,” Microsoft said. “It’s certain that the number and location of victims will keep growing.”
The joint statement O’Brien proposed is being considered, one of the Five Eyes sources said, and if issued, it is unclear whether any condemnation would name Russia.
Last Saturday, when Trump downplayed the massive cyberattack on US federal government agencies, he also contradicted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other US officials’ public remarks linking the hack to Russia.
Trump suggested without evidence that “it may be China” that’s responsible. Instead of condemning the attack, or Russia, he wrote in a tweet that he had been “fully briefed and everything is well under control” — despite officials in his administration having said that the cyberattack “poses a grave risk” to networks across both the public and private sector.
The National Security Council did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.