As the Obama administration stepped up its rhetoric against Russia for allegedly hacking its way into American politics, Russian officials demanded President Barack Obama either “stop talking” or “produce some proof.”
Obama said Thursday that the United States will retaliate against Russia for interfering in the election by hacking political organizations.
“I think there’s no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact on the integrity of our elections, that we need to take action and we will, at a time and a place of our own choosing,” he said.
“Some of it may be explicit and publicized. Some of it may not be. Mr. Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it,” the president added.
The CIA has said that Russian government hackers attacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, but WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who published leaked emails from both of those sources, denied Russia had a role in obtaining the documents WikiLeaks published.
President-elect Donald Trump has publicly voiced doubts about the role of Russian hackers in the elections.
“I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse,” Trump told host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.
On Friday, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the Obama administration has yet to back up its accusations with any evidence.
“They should either stop talking about that or produce some proof at last. Otherwise it all begins to look unseemly,” said Peskov, who added it was “indecent” to “groundlessly” accuse Russia of trying to interfere in the elections.
In October, intelligence agencies said Russia was trying to hack its way into elections systems and political groups. However, the issue lay dormant until after Trump’s victory.
The issue of Russian involvement is complicated by demands from some electors for an intelligence briefing prior to Monday’s Electoral College vote that would officially make Trump America’s president-elect. The New York Times reported that Trump is concerned there may be a political agenda within the CIA to interfere with his election.
“Right now, certain elements of the media, certain elements of the intelligence community and certain politicians are really doing the work of the Russians — they’re creating this uncertainty over the election,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.