(CNN) — Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said Sunday that President Donald Trump has a “blind spot” when it comes to dealing with Russia after the President downplayed a massive cyberattack on US federal agencies linked to the country, warning that the aggression “is a big wake-up call for us.”
“The President has a blind spot when it comes to Russia, and so you can expect that that’s the response that he would have,” Romney told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” when asked about a tweet from Trump undercutting his secretary of state’s assessment of the massive hack.
“This is a big wake-up call for us and I think we’re going to have to really rethink our military and national security readiness so when it comes to cyberspace, because this is the warfare of the future and I hope that we get ourselves up to the capacity you would expect the strongest, greatest nation on Earth to have,” the Utah Republican added.
At least half a dozen federal agencies are now known to have been targeted in the breach, including the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber arm and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and State. Investigators are still trying to determine what, if any, government data may have been accessed or stolen in the hack.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said on Friday that the attack was “a very significant effort,” and directly linked it to Russia. But the following day, Trump, in his first public comments on the issue, appeared to undercut those remarks in a pair of tweets, suggesting without evidence “it may be China” that’s responsible. The President also claimed “everything was under control,” though administration officials said last week that the attack “poses a grave risk” to networks across both the public and private sector.
Romney similarly said that the cyberattack puts the US in a vulnerable position, and suggested the country should strongly react.
“What Russia has done is put in place a capacity to potentially cripple us in terms of our electricity, our water, our communications,” he told Tapper. “This is the same sort of thing one can do in a wartime setting and so it’s extraordinary dangerous and it’s an outrageous affront on our sovereignty and one that’s going to have to be met with a very strong response, not just rhetorical, important as that is, but also with a cyber response of like magnitude or greater.”