President Obama said the United States will retaliate against Russia over its malicious cyberactivity during this year’s election, in an interview that will air Friday on NPR.
“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections . . . we need to take action,” the president 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 president did not comment on last week’s Washington Post report, that was later confirmed by other outlets, that the CIA has concluded with high confidence that Russia intervened in the election specifically to help Donald Trump win the White House. Seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies publicly announced in October that they had concluded the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta was undertaken by hackers working for Russia.
Speaking to “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep, Obama said “there are still a whole range of assessments taking place among the agencies,” and he is waiting for the report on cyberattacks he has ordered to be delivered by Jan. 20.
“And so when I receive a final report, you know, we’ll be able to, I think, give us a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations,” Obama said. “But that does not in any way, I think, detract from the basic point that everyone during the election perceived accurately — that in fact what the Russian hack had done was create more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign.”
“There’s no doubt that it contributed to an atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time were Hillary’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC,” he added.