President Barack Obama on Thursday called for retaliation against Russia for the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails that federal authorities believe was meant to sway the presidential election in President-elect Donald Trump’s favor.
“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 said in an interview with NPR, to be broadcast Friday. “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.”
Obama last met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in September to discuss the cyberattacks.
“He is well aware of my feelings, because I spoke to him directly about it,” he said.
U.S. intelligence officials believe that Putin may have directly ordered the hack, according to NBC. On Thursday, NBC reported that government sources said that the Obama administration decided against responding to Russia before the election for fear of a cyber-war. The White House also did not want to appear to be intervening in the election and believed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would win.
Obama did not specify Thursday what actions he might take, citing an ongoing investigation. Earlier this month, he ordered a full intelligence probe of the matter, to be completed before he leaves office on Jan. 20. A bipartisan group of senators has also called for further scrutiny.
The president would not confirm a recent CIA assessment that Russia directly intervened to help Trump, but he said that the hack had a definite effect on the election results.
“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.
Obama asserted that the Trump campaign amplified the cyberattacks to its advantage.
“They understood what everybody else understood, which was that this was not good for Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” he said.
In an interview with “The Daily Show” on Monday, Obama suggested that there were “very clear relationships between members of the president-elect’s campaign team and Russians, and a professed shared view on a bunch of issues.”
Trump has denied the allegations, calling them “ridiculous” and “just another excuse.” This week, he falsely claimed that the hacks never came up until after the election, even though he himself brought them up on multiple occasions.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said at a news conference in July, referring to Clinton’s emails from her private server.