Inquirer Editorial: Trump is wrong to shrug off Russia's cyberattacks

President Obama was right to retaliate against Russia for interfering in the presidential election by expelling 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia's two leading intelligence services.

But it is unclear what is more alarming: That Russia used a cyberespionage and information-warfare campaign devised to influence the 2016 presidential election, or Donald Trump's feeble response.

"All Americans should be alarmed by Russia's actions," Obama said.

That especially includes President-elect Trump, who will soon swear an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

But instead of standing up for the bedrock of the U.S. democracy - free and fair elections - Trump urged everyone to "move on." After Russian President Vladimir Putin decided not to respond to Obama's actions, Trump called Putin "very smart."

Whose side is Trump on?

Trump does not seem to understand or care that the United States was attacked. The attacks on U.S. computer systems were orchestrated from the highest levels in Russia, a country that for decades has been America's leading geopolitical foe.

But Trump - who has skipped most intelligence briefings - remains in denial regarding the attacks.

"I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly," Trump told reporters on Wednesday at his Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida. "The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on."

Never mind Trump's syntax issues. More outrageous is his cavalier attitude regarding Russia's efforts to undermine American democracy. Trump claimed the United States has "no idea" who is behind the hacking of private emails tied to the Democratic National Committee. But by Saturday night, Trump claimed he knew "things that other people don't know" about the hacking and that the information would be revealed on Tuesday or Wednesday.

This should be interesting. Apparently Trump knows more than the 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, that concluded the espionage attacks came from the highest levels of the Kremlin and were designed to influence the presidential election. The intelligence agencies found Russia's powerful military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U. ordered the attacks. By dismissing those findings, Trump is calling into question U.S. intelligence.

Fortunately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) supports holding a bipartisan congressional investigation into Russia's role in the attacks. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said he hopes Trump's advisers will convince the president-elect that this is an issue that "has to have the highest level of attention."

The Obama administration also plans to release a more detailed report on the hacking, though many details are expected to remain classified.

Trump is unlikely to ever acknowledge that Russia helped him get elected, as that would undermine his legitimacy. But it would be nice to know why Trump continues to cozy up to Putin and defend Russia. That is why the report, hearings, and more information are needed - because maybe Trump does know something that others don't.

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