Former national security advisor Susan Rice issued a stand-down order to national security council officials and allegedly told them to “knock it off” when they tried to combat Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
That’s according to investigative reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s new book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”
The White House director of cybersecurity, Michael Daniel, was reportedly alarmed when he learned that Russian hackers had infiltrated critical election infrastructure in several U.S. states.
Bloomberg reported last June that election systems in as many as 39 states could have been attacked.
“Michael, five more states got popped,” the staffer said according to the book. Daniel reportedly replied to the staffer, “It’s starting to look like every single state has been targeted.”
However, when Daniel attempted to address the situation, he was confronted by Rice.
One day in late August, national security adviser Susan Rice called Daniel into her office and demanded he cease and desist from working on the cyber options he was developing. “Don’t get ahead of us,” she warned him. The White House was not prepared to endorse any of these ideas. Daniel and his team in the White House cyber response group were given strict orders: Stand down. She told Daniel to “knock it off,” he recalled.
Daniel walked back to his office. “That was one pissed-off national security adviser,” he told one of his aides.
A former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russia has since said: “I feel like we sort of choked.”
According to this latest report, they did not choke; they did not even try.