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Mike Pompeo. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Friday evening interview that "we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians" behind a massive cyber attack that breached dozens of government agencies, think tanks and companies.

Driving the news: Pompeo's comments on "The Mark Levin Show" are the first from a Trump administration official publicly linking Russia to the hack. President Trump has yet to address the issue.

  • The State Department is one on a list of federal agencies found to have been attacked, per the Washington Post.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency said Thursday that the breach was "a grave risk to the federal government."
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied involvement in the hacking, the Post writes.

What he's saying: "I can’t say much more as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified," Pompeo said.

  • [T]here was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. Government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well," he continued.
  • "This was a very significant effort, and I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity."

Catch up quick via Axios' Ina Fried: The attack, attributed to Russia, began with the targeting of security firm SolarWinds. Gaining access there allowed the nation-state hackers access to information from a variety of high-profile agencies and companies, including the Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security departments.

  • CISA issued an "emergency directive" last Sunday requiring all federal civilian agencies to review their networks and immediately disconnect SolarWinds Orion software products, following a suspected Russian hack on the Treasury and Commerce Department.

Of note: President-elect Biden released a statement saying his administration "will make cybersecurity a top priority" and he "will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign major climate orders, setting up clash with oil industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden will sign new executive actions today that provide the clearest signs yet of his climate plans — elevating the issue to a national security priority and kicking off an intense battle with the oil industry.

Driving the news: One move will freeze issuance of new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters "to the extent possible," per a White House summary.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."

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