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Obama: Russia Hacked DNC, Told Putin to 'Cut It Out'

Image: Obama: Russia Hacked DNC, Told Putin to 'Cut It Out'

President Barack Obama (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 16 Dec 2016 04:20 PM

President Barack Obama said publicly for the first time on Friday that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and that the breaches stopped after he told President Vladimir Putin to "cut it out" when they met at a global summit in China in September.

"What we've simply said is the facts which are that, based on uniform intelligence assessments, the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC," the president told reporters at his last news conference of the year at the White House in Washington.

"That shouldn't be a bipartisan issue," he added. "That should be a partisan issue — and my hope is that the president-elect is going to similarly be concerned with making sure that we don't have potential foreign influence in our election process.

"I don't think any American wants that," the president said. "That shouldn't be a source of an argument."

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded with "high confidence" that Russia interfered in the election on behalf of President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump has disputed that conclusion, setting up a potential confrontation with lawmakers in both parties.

But President Obama declined to say that the hacks caused Clinton to lose the November election, only commenting that "I don't think she was treated fairly during the election.

"I think the coverage of her and the issues was troubling," Obama said.

Clinton told supporters Thursday that Putin held a grudge against her because she questioned whether Russia's 2011 parliamentary election was fair — and that led to the hacks.

President Obama also would not say Friday whether he believed that Putin himself authorized the hacks — "not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin" — and vowed action against Moscow.

"Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you," Obama said. "It is also important for us to do that in a thoughtful methodical way.

"Some of it we do publicly. Some of it we will do in a way that they know, but not everybody will."

He cautioned that public announcements or other efforts to "spook the Russians" would not be effective, given that the relationship between the nations "has deteriorated, sadly, significantly over the last several years.

"At a point in time where we've taken certain actions that we can divulge publicly, we will do so," Obama said.

He said he told Putin that "there were going to be serious consequences" of any future hacks if Moscow didn't "cut it out."

The conversation took place at the Group of 20 summit in China, the president said.

"We did not see further tampering of the election process," he said, "but the leaks through WikiLeaks had already occurred."

The president defended his decision to withhold disclosing the hacks before the election in order to protect the integrity of the process by allowing the nation's intelligence agencies to fully investigate the breaches.

"My principal goal leading up to the election was making sure that the election itself went off without a hitch, that it was not tarnished — and that it did not feed any sense in the public that somehow tampering had taken place with the actual process of voting," Obama said.

"We accomplished that."

President Obama described Moscow's efforts as "not particularly sophisticated.

"This was not some elaborate complicated espionage scheme," he added. "They hacked into some Democratic Party e-mails that contained pretty routine stuff, some of it embarrassing or uncomfortable.

"There wasn't anything particularly illegal or controversial about it," he said.

The rift between the White House and Trump over Russia's role in the election has led to a public dust-up between the factions.

President Obama, however, rejected any notion that the dispute was disrupting efforts to smoothly transfer power to Trump.

Despite fiercely criticizing each other during the election, Obama and Trump have spoken multiple times since the campaign ended.

"He has listened," Obama said of the president-elect. "I can't say he will end up implementing.

"But the conversations themselves have been cordial."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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President Barack Obama said publicly for the first time on Friday that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and that the breaches stopped after he told President Vladimir Putin to "cut it out" when they met at a...
obama, russia, hack, dnc, vladimir putin
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2016-20-16
Friday, 16 Dec 2016 04:20 PM
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