Russia committed "warfare" against the United States through their 2016 election interference, said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
"When a country can come interfere in another country's elections, that is warfare," Haley said Thursday. "It really is, because you're making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want to giving out that misinformation.
That denunciation of Russia's cyber-attacks against the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton's campaign is a strident departure from President Trump's insistence that claims of election interference are a mere excuse for the Democrats' defeat. But several members of his national security team have agreed Russia did conduct "influence operations" against the United States, though they rebuff the more aggressive suggestion that the Trump team coordinated in that effort.
Haley emphasized Russia conducts such operations around the world, not just against the United States. "They are doing this everywhere," she said. "This is their new weapon of choice."
She made those remarks during a panel hosted by the George W. Bush Institute, flanked by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Haley and her Bush and Clinton administration forebearers focused on a unifying theme of "the spirit of liberty" and the various threats confronting the United States. Though they agreed on much, there were signs of the discontent past Republican and Democratic foreign policy leaders have with the current team's trajectory.
"I will say that I hope we are on top of what really happened to us, that we're really investigating it in ways that bring all of our tools — including what people in places like Google and Facebook will know about how this is done," Rice, who served under George W. Bush and lobbied successfully for Trump to appoint Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, told Haley.
"And then we've got to fix it, because my own view is that if they do this to us once, it's their fault, if they do this to us twice, it's ours."
Haley agreed and put the blame for the current tension between the United States and Russia on the Kremlin.
"I find it fascinating because the Russians, God bless them, they're saying, 'Why are Americans anti-Russian?'" she said. "And why have we done the sanctions? Well, don't interfere in our elections and we won't be anti-Russian."