Mr. Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, said it “makes a lot of sense” that Russians went after the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, because of their work to undermine autocratic regimes.
“I think the Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative is a direct threat to the little circle of crooked oligarchs that surround and support [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and to Vladimir Putin himself,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.”
On Tuesday, Microsoft revealed that Russian groups called Strontium made fraudulent copies of both the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute, as well as fake U.S. Senate sites.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said the sites could have made U.S. computers vulnerable to surveillance and data theft.
When asked if Russians were targeting U.S. midterms, Mr. Whitehouse said the foreign actors will try to distance themselves and deny it. He said the Russians’ greatest defense is President Trump’s reluctance to acknowledge Russia’s involvement in cyberattacks.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Mr. Whitehouse said, “I think that anybody who’s got any brains will see that plausible deniability as a joke.”
• This article was based in part on wire service reports.
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