Politics

President Obama Vows Revenge On Russia

| by Michael Howard

President Barack Obama has vowed to retaliate against the Russians for the cyberattacks they are alleged to have carried out in the run-up to the presidential election.

 "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 told NPR. "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."

In response to the assertions from the United States that Moscow was responsible for hacking the emails of both the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov has demanded proof.

"It is necessary to either stop talking about it, or finally produce some evidence," he said. "Otherwise, it all begins to look quite unseemly."

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While Obama is convinced that Russia was behind the email leaks, he stopped short of agreeing with the CIA's assessment that the leaks were designed specifically to help get Trump get elected.

"There are still a whole range of assessments taking place among the agencies," Obama explained. "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."

"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," he added.

Obama also said he plans for the White House to publish its own comprehensive report on the cyberattacks before Trump is sworn to office on Jan. 20.

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For his part, Trump is still pushing back against the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia was responsible for the breach.

"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Trump's transition team stated on Dec. 9, according to the Daily Caller. "The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.'"

Trump has expressed his doubt on Twitter, as well.

"If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act?" he wrote Dec. 15. "Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?"

The "irony" of Trump's stance on the email leaks and on Russia generally was not lost on Obama, who had some pointed words for those Republicans who are now warming up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The irony of all this, of course, is that for most of my presidency, there's been a pretty sizable wing of the Republican Party that has consistently criticized me for not being tough enough on Russia," he told NPR. "Some of those folks during the campaign endorsed Donald Trump, despite the fact that a central tenet of his foreign policy was we shouldn't be so tough on Russia."

On the question of Putin specifically, Obama didn't mince words:

This is somebody, the former head of the KGB, who is responsible for crushing democracy in Russia, muzzling the press, throwing political dissidents in jail, countering American efforts to expand freedom at every turn; is currently making decisions that's leading to a slaughter in Syria. And a big chunk of the Republican Party, which prided itself during the Reagan era and for decades that followed as being the bulwark against Russian influence, now suddenly is embracing him.

Sources: NPR, Daily Caller, Donald J. Trump/Twitter / Photo credit: Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons

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