“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,” Obama told NPR radio.
“And we will, at a time and place of our own choosing.”
“Some of it may be explicit and publicized,” the president added. “Some of it may not be.”
NPR said Obama avoided endorsing a CIA conclusion that Russia hacked into email accounts of Democratic Party institutions and officials with the specific goal of hurting the party’s candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Republican Donald Trump win the election.
Trump did win.
Obama has ordered US intelligence agencies to conduct a full review of the hacking and report back to him before he leaves office on Inauguration Day January 20.
“There are still a whole range of assessments taking place among the agencies,” Obama told NPR.
The full interview is set to air Friday morning, hours before Obama is scheduled to give a year’s end news conference.
“And so when I receive a final report, you know, we’ll be able to, I think, give us a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations,” Obama said.
The president’s language on retaliation was not new.
When US intelligence agencies took the extraordinary step in October of publicly accusing Russia of staging cyberattacks against American political organizations, officials used similarly tough terms.
“We will take action to protect our interests, including in cyberspace, and we will do so at a time and place of our choosing,” a senior administration official told AFP at the time.