I told Putin ‘cut it out’ on hacking: Obama

Barack Obama

Washington, Dec 17, 2016: US President Barack Obama asserted on Friday that a September confrontation with his Russian counterpart prompted Moscow to cease its cyber breach of the US election.

During a meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summits in China, CNN quoted Obama as saying that he insisted President Vladimir Putin “cut it out” and told him “there were going to be serious consequences if he didn’t”.

“In fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process,” Obama said at a year-end news conference. “But the leaks through Wikileaks had already occurred.”

Obama also contended on Friday that there was no “squabbling” between his White House and the incoming Trump administration, insisting that a roiling debate over Russia’s intrusion into the US election should be confronted on a bipartisan basis.

“What we have simply said are the facts,” Obama said during a year-end news conference.

“Based on uniform intelligence assessments, the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC, and as a consequence, it is important for us to review all elements of that and make sure we are preventing that kind of interference through cyber attacks in the future.”

“That shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Obama went on. “My hope is the President-elect is similarly going to be concerned that we don’t have foreign influence in our election process.”

Despite his assurances, his White House has increasingly been engaged in an escalating rift with Donald Trump’s transition team over Moscow’s intrusion into the US vote, CNN reported.

At the same time, Obama is working to foster a productive relationship with his successor in a bid to influence his presidential decision-making.

Some Democrats have argued the White House was slow in naming Russia as the hacking culprit, though Obama and his aides argue that pushing the intelligence community to make that assessment earlier would have appeared like political interference.

In an interview with NPR that aired on Friday, Obama attempted a balance, saying it was clear Trump and his team knew what Russia’s intentions were, but arguing the issue shouldn’t become mired in partisan politics, CNN added.

“It requires us not to re-litigate the election, it requires us not to point fingers, it requires us to just say, here’s what happened, let’s be honest about it, and let’s not use it as a political football but let’s figure out how to prevent it from happening in the future,” Obama said.

At the same time, he vowed a retaliatory response to Moscow’s cyber intrusions and said Trump would be wise to uphold a US commitment to international norms.

It’s become the President’s annual tradition to take reporters’ questions a few hours before departing on his holiday vacation in Hawaii.

IANS

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