“There could also have been a hit on our ridiculous voting machines during the election, which is now obvious that I won big, making it an even more corrupted embarrassment for the USA.”

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Mr Pompeo was the first member of the Trump administration to blame the Kremlin, endorsing the findings of the US intelligence community.

“I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” Mr Pompeo said in an interview on Friday.

“This was a very significant effort … we’re still unpacking precisely what it is.”

Considered one of Mr Trump’s staunchest supporters, Mr Pompeo was vocal in endorsing the President’s claim that last month’s election had been stolen. His willingness to speak out on the hack before Mr Trump was seen as evidence of the Secretary of State demonstrating his independence amid speculation he could be a contender for the Republican nomination in 2024.

Mr Pompeo’s stance on Russia is in line with views expressed by a number of senior Republicans.

Marco Rubio, a Florida senator, said the attack bore the hallmarks of a Russian cyber-operation. He called for the US to respond if it was confirmed that the Kremlin was responsible.

“But it’s crucial we have complete certainty about who is behind this,” Mr Rubio said. “We can’t afford to be wrong on attribution, because America must retaliate, and not just with sanctions.”

Mr Biden, the President-elect, said his administration would impose “substantial costs” on those responsible.

“A good defence isn’t enough; we need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyber-attacks in the first place,” he said, adding: “I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber-assaults on our nation.”

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Moscow has denied involvement. Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador, claimed there were “unfounded attempts by US media to blame Russia”.

A few days before the cyber-attack became public knowledge, the US said it was closing the last two remaining consulates in Russia. It was unclear whether the events were linked.

The extent of the damage caused by the attack, which embroiled major government agencies, think tanks and at least 40 companies, is still emerging.

There are fears it will take several months to clear the hackers out of the networks they penetrated.

The Sunday Telegraph, London

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