- Barack Obama escalated the clash with Moscow over election interference when he said the US will take action against Russia for hacking – but he didn’t say what action
- He said the US will respond to Russia at a ‘time and place of our choosing’
- NBC News said the president confronted Putin in September over the hacking while at a summit in China
- Putin’s spokesman slammed the accusations of Russian interference as groundless and ‘indecent’
- Trump continues to minimize the charges of hacking, pointing to hacked information that got leaked after earlier going after the CIA
- ‘Are we talking about the same cyberattack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?’ Trump tweeted Friday
President Barack Obama raised the temperature in the U.S. clash with Moscow over what intelligence officials say was interference in the U.S. elections, bluntly vowing to take countermeasures against Russia.
Obama told NPR News the US will respond at a ‘time and place of our choosing,’ without revealing what he had in mind. His comments are the clearest indication to date that whatever response the US is planning has not yet occurred.
‘I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections … we need to take action,’ Obama said.
‘And we will — at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be.’
The new threats came as the clash with Russia has jacked up tensions between President-elect Donald Trump and the White House, after a handover process that has been surprisingly cordial, with the two men speaking frequently and Trump even saying he was consulting Obama about cabinet decisions.
President Obama confronted Vladimir Putin in September at the G-20 Summit in China, according to a US official
Trump weighed in on the subject of hacking yet again on Twitter Friday morning, drawing attention to the substance of the hack – rather than the hacking itself or the threat posed by Russian interference.
‘Are we talking about the same cyberattack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?’ Trump wrote.
He was referencing hacked emails that revealed former CNN commentator Donna Brazile and DNC official stating that she sometimes got an advance look at debate questions and passing information to the Clinton camp before a campaign forum.
On Thursday night, Trump hit at Obama by going after White House press secretary Josh Earnest as ‘this foolish guy’ – then said without explanation, ‘Maybe he is getting his orders from somebody else?’
‘You know, having the right press secretary is so important because he’s so bad the way he delivers a message. He can deliver a positive message and it sounds bad,’ Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania.
‘He could say ladies and gentlemen, today we have totally defeated ISIS, and it wouldn’t sound good, OK?’ Trump said, continuing his hit on Obama’s outgoing flak.
‘Are we talking about the same cyberattack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?’ wrote Trump
On Thursday, Earnest hit Trump for his campaign statement asking the Russians to hack into Clinton’s emails, something Trump later said was a joke.
‘It is just a fact—you all have it on tape—that the Republican nominee for president was encouraging Russia to hack his opponent because he believed it would help his campaign.’
Trump transition official Kellyanne Conway called the statement ‘breathtaking.’
Trump’s two other recent tweets since bombshell reports that the CIA believes the hacking was meant to help Trump have lashed out, without mentioning the seriousness of the threat.
‘These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,’ Trump tweeted after a Washington Post report on the hacking last week.
Later, he wrote: ‘If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act?. Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?’
Russian President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov fired back at Obama Friday, saying it was said it was ‘indecent’ for the U.S. to ‘groundlessly’ accuse Russia of interference, Russian state news agency Tass reported.
‘They should either stop talking about that or produce some proof at last. Otherwise it all begins to look unseemly,’ Peskov said.
Obama says he’s spoken directly to Putin about his feelings about the hacking.
Multiple government officials told NBC News Obama didn’t mount a more robust response because the White House thought Hillary Clinton would win and it didn’t want to to be seen to be interfering with the election.
‘They thought she was going to win, so they were willing to kick the can down the road,’ said one official. Security officials had internally raised countermeasures including exposing Putin’s relations with oligarchs or impacting Russia’s internet to allow dissenting voices through, but the ideas got shelved.
A US official says he confronted Putin at the G-20 summit in China and promised unspecified consequences if the hacks continued, reports the outlet.
But some feel Obama didn’t do enough.
NBC News said that Obama didn’t call out Russia more strongly because he thought Clinton was going to win the election and it would be seen as interfering
‘In retrospect it certainly seems as though it was a mistake not to call the Russians sooner and respond to them in a very forceful way,’ said retired Admiral James Stavridis, current dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
One official pointed the blame at the media for focusing more on the leaked documents than the Russian hacking that got them leaked.
Still to be determined is how the flareup might impact Trump’s nomination of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Tillerson has spent years doing energy deals with Russia, knows Putin personally, and even got a medal of friendship that Putin bestowed.
A trio of Republican senators have raised concerns about the nomination, citing concerns with Russia.
Trump seemed to finally admit that perhaps someone – maybe even Russia – was hacking
He then tweeted early the next morning – once again bringing up the fact that Hillary had allegedly seen debate questions
Additionally, the day that the hacks were made public by intelligence officials was the same day that ‘pu**ygate’ broke with the Donald Trump/Billy Bush tape revealing Trump’s crude brag that he could grab women by the privates if he wanted to. The media chose to focus its attention on the sensational recording.
Eleven days later, Obama did not receive one question about Russia at a press conference.
The White House is also sharply criticizing President-elect Donald Trump for his response to allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election.
Vladimir Putin (right) is in Tokyo today meeting Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left). The pair laughed and joked during a visit to a judo hall
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Trump should stop attacking the US intelligence community. He said instead, Trump should be supporting the investigation into what occurred that Obama has ordered.
Trump’s transition team has complained that the White House has suggested Trump knew during the campaign that Russia was trying to interfere. But Earnest said its ‘obvious’ Trump knew and that it’s a fact.
He is also disputing Trump’s claim that he was joking when he encouraged Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails.
As for Trump, he did a turn-around Thursday, and instead of denying that Russia hacked into Democrats’ computers and emails, tweeted, ‘If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?’
He then tweeted again at 6.10am on Friday, bringing up the fact that Hillary had allegedly been leaked debate questions.
‘Are we talking about the same cyberattack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?’ he wrote.
His top transition aide, Anthony Scaramucci, seemed to be on the Democrats’ side, agreeing that there was a Russian hack.
‘I don¹t think anybody thinks that you¹re wrong,’ he told Brian Williams on MSNBC of an NBC News report that said Putin was directly involved in the hacks. ‘Our position right now is that we¹re waiting for more information. We reject the notion that people would cyber attack our institutions. We are very upset about it.’
Donald Trump has said he does not believe that Putin and Russia hacked into Democrats’ emails, but may have just pivoted with his latest tweet
Earnest says nobody in the White House, Congress or the intelligence community found it ‘funny’ that a US adversary was trying to ‘destabilize our democracy.’
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says he believes Vladimir Putin was personally involved in efforts to intrude into the presidential election and help Trump win the White House.
The Nevada Democrat said Thursday ‘the answer is clearly yes’ when asked about the Russian president’s involvement. He adds that because Putin is a former KGB chief, his alleged actions should surprise no one.
Vladimir Putin (left) was named this week by Forbes as the world’s most powerful person. He is in Tokyo today for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right)
Reid also criticized FBI Director James Comey for doing ‘nothing’ to prevent Russia from hacking Democratic campaign documents while focusing on Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Reid says Comey, who used to be a registered Republican, ‘became so partisan’ that he should head the Republican National Committee.
Reid is retiring at the end of the year.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has lauded nominees for the incoming Trump administration as people with no ‘anti-Russian stereotypes.’