President Barack Obama promised that the U.S. would “take action” in response to Russia’s pre-election hacking. His comments come more than two months after the U.S. intelligence community announced that the Russian government intentionally plotted to interfere with the U.S. election.
“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 and we will. At a time and a place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be,” Obama told NPR.
Obama said Russian President Vladimir Putin “is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it.”
Obama made the remarks after intelligence officials said that Putin was personally linked to the hacking campaign. The White House is under increasing pressure to mount a strong response.
“I think it’s extraordinarily serious that we send the message, not just to Russia in this case but to all of the countries out there that are trying to figure out what can [they] get away with in cyberspace? Where are the red lines? What’s tolerable behavior?” former Justice Department Assistant Attorney General John Carlin told ABC News’ chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. “And it’s very important that we send the message that if you try to undermine our electoral system, in our democratic system, that that will demand a response.”
Russia has repeatedly denied the hacking allegations.
Obama declined to say how the U.S. planned to respond, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday that Obama believes in a “proportional response.”
When discussing proportional responses to cyber attacks, perhaps the most obvious course of action is to respond with another cyber attack. But former senior U.S. officials and experts told ABC News today that’s among the least likely and most ill-advised options at this point.
“You don’t win in the retaliation game. You feel better. You scratch a political itch. But you have to think really hard about what you’re doing,” said former CIA European Division chief Rolf Mowatt-Larssen. “I’m not saying they get off. I’m saying you really have to think of the ramifications and … it has to be part of a broader solution.”
The President has a press conference scheduled for Friday, 12/16 at 2:15 p.m. ET.