President Obama took to the National Public Radio airwaves on Friday morning with some direct words for the Russian government. Obama, who believes that Vladimir Putin himself directed the hacks on the Democratic National Committee, told host Steve Inskeep that the U.S. was prepared to respond in kind.
“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. “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.”
Last week, it was revealed that top-level CIA officials believe that Russia initiated the hacks to help Donald Trump win the presidency. While the FBI and other intelligence agencies agree that Russia’s fingerprints are on the cyberattacks, not everyone is in agreement concerning the motive. The FBI continues to believe that Putin was interested only in sewing discord and confusion, not in getting Trump elected to the White House.
Trump, for his part, has said he does not necessarily believe that Russia was behind the attacks at all. He has said several times that it could just as easily be China or an independent hacker. In that assertion, he’s backed up by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has said all along that the emails came from a disgruntled Democratic Party insider and not from anyone involved with the Kremlin.
“There are still a whole range of assessments taking place among the agencies,” Obama admitted. “And so when I receive a final report, you know, we’ll be able to, I think, give a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations. But that does not in any way, I think, detract from the basic point that everyone during the election perceived accurately — that in fact what the Russian hack had done was create more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign.
“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,” Obama said.
Obama must have been watching another election. First of all, “Hillary’s emails” don’t have anything to do with the hack of the DNC unless Obama wants to make the case that Moscow forced Hillary to hide a private server in her basement.
Second, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party are responsible for the contents of the hacked/leaked emails, no matter how they became public record. You can blame Russia for the hacks, but don’t try to blame Russia for the content.
If Putin was behind these attacks, American retaliation is a necessary next step. But if Obama is playing a game of chicken for the purposes of keeping Trump out of the White House, he desperately needs to reconsider.