President Obama pledged this month that there would be a response to Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections, and he’s following through.
Obama just ordered a series of measures to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election, including economic sanctions, diplomatic censure and aggressive covert actions involving cyber-operations, according to U.S. officials, The Washington Post reported.
The administration is finalizing the details, the officials said. An announcement on the public elements of the response could come as early as this week, according to the report.
The Russian hacking, which began as a personal vendetta against Hillary Clinton, soon became a full-fledged campaign to help elect Donald Trump, once Putin realized how easily manipulated Trump was.
The new measures culminate weeks of debate in the White House on how to revise a 2015 executive order that was meant to give the president authority to respond to cyber-attacks from overseas.
Obama issued the executive order creating the sanctions tool as a way to hold accountable people who harm computer systems related to critical functions such as electricity generation or transportation, or who gain a competitive advantage through the cybertheft of commercial secrets.
Now, with the clock ticking, the White House has adopted the authority to punish the Russians. The order allows the government to freeze the assets of people overseas who have engaged in cyber-attacks that have threatened U.S. national security. The sanctions would also block commercial transactions and bar those involved in the hack entry into the U.S.
Criminal indictments of Russians might become an option, officials said, according to the report.
Administration officials would also like to make it difficult for President-elect Donald Trump to roll back any action they take.
“Part of the goal here is to make sure that we have as much of the record public or communicated to Congress in a form that would be difficult to simply walk back,” said one senior administration official.
The idea is not only to punish but also to deter.
“As much as I am concerned about what happened to us in the election, I am also concerned about what will happen to us in the future,” a second administration official said.
“I am firmly convinced that the Russians and others will say, ‘That worked pretty well in 2016, so let’s keep going.’ We have elections every two years in this country.”
With these new measures, President Obama is sending a strong message to Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation: Don’t f*ck with the U.S.