President Obama is vowing to respond to Russia’s election hacking, and urging President-elect Donald Trump to back a bipartisan investigation into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you,” Obama said in his year-end press conference before he jetted off for a Christmas holiday vacation to Hawaii.
“Some of it, we do publicly. Some of it, we will do in a way that they know, but not everybody will,” Obama said. “At a point in time where we’ve taken certain actions that we can divulge publicly, we will do so. There are times where the message will be directly received by the Russians and not publicized.”
Obama strongly suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin knew of the hacks into the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta.
“Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin,” Obama said, adding he warned Putin in September to “cut it out” or else there would be “serious consequences,” a threat Obama sees as successfully heading off worse cyber intrusions. “In fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process.”
The president’s suggestion echoed Clinton’s claim Thursday that Putin “directed the covert cyberattacks against our electoral system, against our democracy, apparently because he has a personal beef against me.”
Obama said a bipartisan investigation of the Russian hacking is important to “make sure that we are preventing that kind of interference through cyberattacks in the future,” and he wants Trump to back congressional calls to get to the bottom of the hacks.
“And my hope is that the president-elect is going to similarly be concerned with making sure that we don’t have a potential foreign influence in our election process. I don’t think any American wants that. And that shouldn’t be a source of an argument,” Obama said.
Trump has dismissed the Russian hacking intel as “ridiculous.”
Obama reflected on the tough loss Democrats suffered in the presidential race and beyond as a failure on his part of not being able to transfer his own popularity and electoral success to others in his party.
“It is not something that I’ve been able to transfer to candidates in midterms or build a sustaining organization around,” Obama said. “That’s something I would have liked to have done more of but it’s kind of hard to do when you’re dealing with a whole bunch of issues here in the White House.”
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