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Main » Obama WH 'Choked' on Response to Russian Hacking — WashPost

Obama WH 'Choked' on Response to Russian Hacking — WashPost

24 June 2017

As the Obama White House debated how to act in response to intelligence that allegedly revealed Russian Federation was interfering with the US election in 2016, the administration reportedly was confident a Clinton win would end the issue, according to the Washington Post.

Sent by courier from the CIA, a special intelligence briefing marked "eyes only" carried instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: Mr Obama and three senior aides.

"Our primary interest in August, September and October was to prevent them from doing the max they could do", a senior administration official told the Post "We made the judgment that we had ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures".

Many White House officials were torn over how to make the information about Russian hacking public out of concern that it might appear to be a deliberate attempt by the White House to influence the election, the report said.

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The story said Obama and at least three officials were told not only of a plot backed by Putin, but one created to defeat or damage the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, in an effort to put President Donald Trump in the White House. "Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian president Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the USA presidential race", the paper says.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Wednesday that the USA move wasn't constructive and warned of possible retaliation.

The report said dozens of retaliatory options were debated, including cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure.

"We set out from a first-order principle that required us to defend the integrity of the vote", said former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.

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The Post reports that USA intelligence agencies had sourcing deep inside the Russian government capturing Mr Putin's direct instructions in the operation. "Importantly, we did that". But just an hour later, revelations broke a video tape in which Trump boasted about groping women, quickly followed by a WikiLeaks dump of emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. "Why didn't they stop them?"

"As the Post story also makes clear, the Obama administration failed to impose any meaningful costs on Russian Federation for its attack on American democracy past year - a failure, sadly, that has not been rectified yet by the current administration or by the Congress", he said.

But others in the administration suggest that more could have been done.

A former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russian Federation said: "It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend, I feel like we sort of choked".

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Obama WH 'Choked' on Response to Russian Hacking — WashPost