Former Obama administration National Security Council cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel confirmed on Wednesday that a "stand down" order was given to counter Russian cyberattacks during the 2016 election.
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, asked Daniel about a passage in the book Russian Roluette. The passage was about a staffer from Daniel's team, Daniel Prieto, retelling the time that Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice told Daniel and his team to halt their efforts and to "stand down" in countering Russia's cyberattacks.
Daniel was quoted saying to his team that they had to stop working on options to counter the Russian attack: "We've been told to stand down." Prieto is quoted as being "incredulous and in disbelief" and asking, "Why the hell are we standing down?"
"That is an accurate rendering of the conversation at the staff meeting but the larger context is something that we can discuss in the classified session," Daniel said. "But I can say there were many concerns about how many people were involved in the development of the options so the decision at that point was to neck down the number of people that were involved in our ongoing response options. It's not accurate to say all activities ceased at that point. "
Daniel and his team were tasked in developing options to Russia's cyberattacks on the United States. Russian hacked the Democratic National Committee servers in 2015 and into voter registration systems of several U.S. states in 2016.