Michael Vickers, a former top intelligence official at the Pentagon said Saturday that the Russian interference in the 2016 elections was “the political equivalent of 9/11.”
Vickers, who served as President Barack Obama’s undersecretary of defense, said in an interview with NBC News that there’s little evidence of a response from the Trump administration to protect the next election.
“This attack is really the political equivalent of 9/11 — it is deadly, deadly serious,” Vickers said.
“The Russians will definitely be back, given the success they had,” he continued. “I don’t see much evidence of a response.”
However, the Trump administration disputes the claim that it is doing nothing to secure America’s voting systems. In a statement to NBC News, one U.S. official said that the White House is responding in ways “some you’ll see, some you won’t see…You certainly don’t want to telegraph your moves.”
In a separate interview on Saturday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told MSNBC the CIA has “heightened emphasis on our ability to stop”Russian hacking attempts in the face of recent threats.
On Friday, the Trump administration seemed to acknowledge Russian efforts to influence the election after months of denials. In a tweet on Friday, Trump attacked Obama for doing “nothing about it” last year while the election was still ongoing.
“The Obama administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?” Trump asked followers on his personal Twitter account. Trump also mentioned Russia’s efforts to interfere in the election in a Fox and Friends interview that aired Friday.
“Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it. But nobody wants to talk about that,” Trump said in the interview.
“The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even – before the election. And I hardly see it. It’s an amazing thing,” Trump added.