Obama to take action over claims of Russian hacking during US election
US President Barack Obama has called for action over probable attempts by Russian hackers to alter the outcome of last month’s election.
Speaking to NPR news, he said that he had spoken directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured above) about his feelings over the hacking.
Whenever a foreign government tried to interfere in US elections, the nation must take action “and we will”, Obama said.
“Some of it may be explicit and publicised, some of it may not be. But Mr Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it.”
The Obama administration has suggested that Putin personally authorised the hacking of Democratic officials’ email accounts in the run-up to the election and said it was “fact” that such actions helped Donald Trump’s campaign.
The White House also attacked president-elect Trump himself, saying he must have known of Russia’s interference.
After the results came in, E&T looked at what Trump’s surprise victory means for engineering and technology sectors.
Despite the accusations against Trump and Russia, no proof has been offered so far and claims of Russian meddling have further heightened already tense relations between the two countries.
“Only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorised these activities,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes made further claims, saying it was Putin who was responsible for the Russian government’s actions.
“I don’t think things happen in the Russian government of this consequence without Vladimir Putin knowing about it,” he said.
The explosive accusation paints Putin, the leader of perhaps the nation’s greatest geopolitical foe, as having directly undermined US democracy.
US officials have not argued, however, that Trump would have been defeated by Hillary Clinton on 8 November 2016 if not for Russia’s assistance, nor has there has been any indication of tampering with the vote-counting.
The Kremlin flatly rejected the claim of Putin’s involvement, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissing it as “laughable nonsense”.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior transition adviser, said it was “breathtaking” and irresponsible that the White House had suggested he knew Russia was interfering to help his campaign.
However, during the campaign trail Trump called for Moscow to find Clinton’s missing emails during a news conference, he later claimed he was joking.
“I don’t think anybody at the White House thinks it’s funny that an adversary of the United States engaged in malicious cyber activity to destabilise our democracy,” Earnest said. “That’s not a joke.”
US intelligence officials have linked the hacking to Russia’s intelligence agency and its military intelligence division.