After issuing a promise to take action in mid December, President Barack Obama and his outgoing White House administration announced new sanctions and other punishments levied against Russia for its alleged involvement in the Democratic National Committee email hack. According to the New York Times, included in the official American response to Russia’s purported involvement are new sanctions against the country’s two leading intelligence groups, and the ejection of 35 Russian intelligence operatives from U.S. soil. What’s more, four of the ejected officials are top officers in Russian military intelligence believed to have ordered the hacking attacks.
U.S. officials are also expected to reveal the evidence they’ve gathered connecting Russian intelligence to the cyberattacks carried out against American computer systems operated by, or pertaining to, the DNC and other election-affiliated organizations. It total, these new sanctions and ejections will amount to what the NYT dubs the “strongest American response ever taken to a state-sponsored cyberattack aimed at the United States.”
Despite the many doubts Donald Trump has repeatedly cast on Russia’s reported involvement in the U.S. election, a bipartisan coalition of politicians and bureaucrats thinks otherwise. The CIA and the FBI, congressional Republicans and third-party cyber security experts have all expressed opinions contrary to the president-elect. And with the newly announced sanctions “intended to box in” Trump, he will have to decided what to do once he takes office:
Mr. Trump will now have to decide whether to lift the sanctions on the Russian intelligence agencies when he takes office next month, with Republicans in Congress among those calling for a public investigation into Russia’s actions. Should Mr. Trump do so, it would require him to effectively reject the findings of his intelligence agencies.
Trump mostly ignored questions about Russia’s alleged hacking during an impromptu press conference on Wednesday, though he did suggest “we ought to get on with our lives.” Considering the potential Trump cabinet’s many business ties to the rival nation, and reports that the president-elect’s top defense priorities exclude Russia altogether, his comments regarding the country are curious.
Amazingly, House Speaker (and, um, Trump ally?) Paul Ryan issued a statement shortly after the Obama administration’s announcement decrying both the president and the president-elect. “Russia does not share America’s interests,” it read. “While today’s action by the administration is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia.” Ouch.
(Via New York Times)