Despite past assertions that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence community that Russia does not tamper with the U.S. electoral process, President Donald Trump last week admitted in an interview with a Washington Post columnist that he approved a 2018 retaliation to take out Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) for precisely that reason.

Trump cited the offensive attack on Russia prior to the midterm 2018 elections, as an example of how he’s been harder than his predecessors on the country. The Post reported in February 2019 unnamed U.S. government officials familiar with the incident said the military blocked Internet access to St. Petersburg, Russia-based IRA, but Trump at the time was mum on the issue.

It was the first time that Cyber Command had the authority to conduct such an offensive attack, which Trump told Post columnist Marc Thiessen, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, he approved.

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