The Obama White House knew about Russian hacking in the summer of 2015, but kept quiet about it because it thought Democrat Hillary Clinton would win anyway, and it did not want to risk a cyberwar with America's Cold War foe, NBC News reported.
"They thought she was going to win, so they were willing to kick the can down the road," NBC quoted one government official familiar with the situation.
Still, NBC noted, Obama did mention the hack in a private conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin during September's G-20 summit in China. He told Putin there would be consequences if the hacks continued, but was not specific.
Obama himself mentioned speaking to Putin in an interview with National Public Radio set to air Friday.
"Mr. Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it," Obama told NPR.
In the same interview, Obama said any country is within its rights to respond to such attacks, and said the United States will do so.
Obama leaves office Jan. 20 and has requested intelligence agencies submit a report to him on the hacking before he leaves office, suggesting although the countermove could come at any time, it is likely to happen while Obama is commander in chief.
President-elect Donald Trump has downplayed any role by Russia, saying it has not been proved. He also has signaled a more friendly relationship with Putin.
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