President Barack Obama on Thursday vowed retaliatory action against Russia for its meddling in the U.S. presidential election, pointing to the probability that President Vladimir Putin personally authorised it.
“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 place of our own choosing,” Obama said in an interview scheduled to air on Friday on National Public Radio, according to CNN.
Describing potential countermeasures by the U.S., the President said “some of it may be explicit and publicised; some of it may not be.”
He said he directly confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin about a potential U.S. response, and said his counterpart acknowledged his stance.
“Mr. Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it,” Obama said.
Obama and Putin conferred on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in China in September.
Afterwards, Obama told reporters he raised cybersecurity with the Russian leader.
Intelligence agencies in October pinned blame on Russia for election-related hacking.
At the time, the White House vowed a “proportional response” to the cyberactivity, though declined to preview what that response might entail.
Officials have said U.S. actions against Russia may not be revealed publicly.
Earlier on Thursday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters during the daily White House briefing that “Mr. Trump obviously knew that Russia was engaged in malicious cyber activity that was helping him, and hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton. These are all facts that are not in dispute.”
Earnest pointed out that Trump had encouraged Moscow during a news conference to find missing emails from Clinton’s private server.
Trump has said 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 destabilize our democracy; that’s not a joke,” Earnest said.
Earnest, without mentioning Russian President Putin by name, also said “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorised these activities,” repeating the words from an October U.S. intelligence assessment.
Earnest declined to say whether the U.S. had already begun its response to Moscow’s actions.
“The President determined once the intelligence community had reached this assessment that a proportional response was appropriate. At this point, I don’t have anything to say about whether or not that response has been carried out,” Earnest said.
Obama had directed the intelligence agencies to investigate the extent of Russia’s involvement in the election and conclude it before he leaves office.
The November 8 U.S. presidential election was allegedly manipulated by Russia following the upset by Republican Donald Trump against Democratic Hillary Clinton, who was popularly projected to win.
Trump has continued to dismiss allegations of hacking by Russia and has slammed Democrats and efforts by Green Party candidate in the election, Jill Stein for votes recount in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Clinton won the popular vote by about 2.7 million but lost to Trump on Electoral College.