Donald Trump Accuses NY Times of 'Virtual Act of Treason' with Russia Report
President says paper is desperate for a story 'even if its bad for the country'
President Donald Trump has accused The New York Times of committing "a virtual act of Treason" amid its reports about the United States ramping up cyber attacks on Russia's electric power grid.
Trump accused the newspaper of being desperate for a story.
"Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia," Trump tweeted.
"This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country."
In a follow-up tweet, Trump said that the story was "NOT TRUE!"
"Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today," he added.
"They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!"
But the Times stood by its story, responding to Trump's tweet saying "accusing the press of treason is dangerous."
"We described the article to the government before publication," the newspaper's communications department said.
"As our story notes, President Trump’s own national security officials said there were no concerns."
The Times published a report about the efforts of the US to penetrate Russia's power grid.
The paper cited current and former government officials before noting the actions are a warning to Moscow on how the Trump administration is practicing new authorities to unleash cyber tools in an aggressive manner.
According to the officials, the U.S. was deploying computer code within Russia's grid and other targets.
The strategy is allegedly a part of a broader initiative "directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections," The Times wrote.
“It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” one senior intelligence official told the Times.
“We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”
Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2019
Accusing the press of treason is dangerous.— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimesPR) June 16, 2019
We described the article to the government before publication. As our story notes, President Trump’s own national security officials said there were no concerns. https://t.co/MU020hxwdc pic.twitter.com/4CIfcqKoEl
According to The Hill: Advocates of the strategy have reportedly argued that the U.S.'s campaign is warranted, given the warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI that Russia has inserted malware that could damage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, and water supplies.
The new cyber authorities were granted to the U.S. Cyber Command by the White House and Congress last year, according to the Times.
The administration declined to comment to the Times on the specific actions it was undertaking.
Multiple administration officials also told the newspaper that they do not believe Trump was briefed about the plans to deploy computer code into Russia's grid.
Some officials within the Pentagon and intelligence community told the Times that there was hesitation to give Trump details about the operations.