Obama: We will respond to hacking
White House says Trump knew Russia engaged in cyber attacks
WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Thursday said the US would retaliate against Russian hacking after the White House accused Mr Vladimir Putin of direct involvement in cyber attacks designed to influence the US election.
Mr Obama's remarks dramatically upped the stakes in a dispute between the world's leading nuclear powers over interference that may have swayed last month's tight election, in which Republican billionaire Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Mr Obama told NPR radio: "I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action.
"And we will, at a time and place of our own choosing."
Pointing the finger at the Russian president over meddling in the election also puts the White House on a collision course with Mr Trump, who has become increasingly isolated in questioning Russian involvement in hacks of Democratic Party e-mails that appeared to have slowed the momentum of Mrs Clinton's campaign.
"I don't think things happen in the Russian government of this consequence without Vladimir Putin knowing about it," one of his top advisers, Mr Ben Rhodes.
"Everything we know about how Russia operates and how Mr Putin controls that government would suggest that, again, when you're talking about a significant cyber intrusion like this, we're talking about the highest levels of government," he told MSNBC television.
"And ultimately, Vladimir Putin is the official responsible for the actions of the Russian government."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest echoed his comments, saying the decision by US intelligence agencies in October to blame "Russia's senior-most officials" was not meant to be "particularly subtle".
Mr Trump caused outrage in July by suggesting that Russia find 30,000 missing e-mails related to Mrs Clinton's use of a private server when she was secretary of state.
Surrogates dismissed it as a joke, but he repeated his call on Twitter.
NOT A JOKE
"I don't think anybody at the White House thinks it's funny that an adversary of the United States engaged in malicious cyber activity to destabilise our democracy. That's not a joke," Mr Earnest said on Thursday.
"Mr Trump obviously knew that Russia was engaged in malicious cyber activity that was helping him and hurting Secretary Clinton's campaign," he added.
A Kremlin spokesman on Thursday rejected the allegations of Mr Putin's involvement as "ridiculous nonsense". - AFP