WILMINGTON, Del. – President-elect Joe Biden slammed President Donald Trump and his administration’s handling of a massive cybersecurity attack on the United States government in a speech on Tuesday.
Biden delivered a holiday address touching on several subjects, which included coronavirus and his cabinet but became upset when mentioning the cyberattack, which has breached several government agencies, including the Treasury Department, Commerce, Defense, State, and Energy, among potential others, according to various reports.
“There’s still so much we don’t know,” Biden said. “But we know this much: This attack constitutes a grave risk to our national security. It was carefully planned and carefully orchestrated.”
The U.S. government has not officially made a formal assessment of who was behind the attack, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr have both said all signs point to Russia being behind the attack.
Mr. Trump, who has long defended Russia throughout his presidency, suggested — without evidence — that China may have been behind the hack. The U.S. government says the breach of the Treasury Department took place back in July but may have been planned earlier when malicious code was slipped into software updates.
“The truth is, the Trump administration failed to prioritize cybersecurity,” Biden said. “This assault happened on Donald Trump’s watch, while he wasn’t watching.”
The president-elect said he would work with allies to set up international rules to hold whoever is responsible for the cyberattack accountable and promised the American people his administration would make cybersecurity a top priority.
Biden said his transition team does not know much of the details surrounding the attack due to the Pentagon not briefing his team on the matter.
“The Department of Defense won’t even brief us on many things,” he said.
Biden’s news conference came less than 24 hours after Congress passed a $900 billion coronavirus aid bill that includes a one-time payment of $600 to all Americans and aid for struggling small businesses. He vowed on a newer, broader relief bill he plans to introduce when he takes office in January.
“Like all compromises, this is far from perfect,” Biden said. “Congress did their job this week, and I can and I must ask them to do it again next year.”
The president-elect also expressed concern for the winter months ahead as the coronavirus still continues its deadly surge throughout the country, resulting economic uncertainty. He urged Americans to take precautions for Christmas, a time when the majority of the country comes together with family and friends.
Biden warned of a “dark winter” as coronavirus cases rise across the country. As of this writing, over 320,000 people have died from the virus.
“Our darkest days and the battle against Covid are ahead of us — not behind us,” he said. “As frustrating as it is to hear, it’s gonna take patience, persistence and determination to beat this virus.”