Amid a flurry of reports from U.S. intelligence agencies the Russian government intruded America’s electoral framework on Donald Trump’s behalf, it has been revealed President Obama remained idle over fear of appearing too deeply involved in the election and concern for instigating a prolonged cyber war with the Kremlin.
Several U.S. officials with knowledge of the Obama administration’s reaction to charges of Russian interference also say the White House declined to retaliate because they were confident of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s election chances.
“They thought she was going to win, so they were willing to kick the can down the road,” admitted one unnamed U.S. official to NBC News.
American intelligence had alerted the White House to suspicious hacking activity as early as the beginning of October. Both the Department of Homeland Security and the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said evidence suggested Russian involvement.
The White House said Mr. Obama did address the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a private conversation at the September G-20 meeting, saying the Kremlin would face reprisals; however, the administration did not cite specifics.
Questions related to the Obama White House’s failure to react to alleged Russian hacking arose Thursday when President-elect Donald Trump inquired why the Obama administration refused to respond during the election, but chose to address the matter in the wake of Clinton’s loss.
If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
The Clinton campaign had long expressed concern over repeated hackings into the Democratic National Committee were performed to aid Donald Trump’s campaign.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly questioned the veracity of such reports and both he and Trump campaign officials have heatedly denied any collusion with the Kremlin during and after the election.
In an interview with NPR on Friday, Mr. Obama vowed to retaliate against Russia for its alleged hacking, but declined to reveal his plans.
“Some of it may be explicit and publicized, some of it may not be,” he said.
[The Hill] [Photo courtesy Steven Senne/AP via New York Daily News]