POLITICO – President Barack Obama vowed to take retaliatory action against Russia for trying “to impact the integrity” of the 2016 presidential elections, in an interview broadcast Thursday.
“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action,” the president told NPR. “And we will at a time and place of our own choosing.”
Without providing further specifics, the president said some U.S. actions may be “explicit and publicized” while others “may not be.”
The Obama administration has repeatedly condemned Russian hacks of American computer systems during the election, but Obama’s comments Thursday serve as the harshest public rebuke yet. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that the U.S. would deliver a “proportional” response to any Russian hacking.
The president also added that he had made his thoughts on the matter clear to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“Mr. Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it,” Obama said.
The Kremlin denied reports Thursday that Putin had been “personally involved in the covert Russian campaign.”
Obama also weighed in on how he felt the cyber attacks affected the election, saying that while it wasn’t the ultimate reason for Hillary Clinton’s defeat, it likely contributed to the outcome.
“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 said.
He added: “I have no doubt that it had some impact, just based on the coverage.”