Election Hacking Leads Pres. Obama to Sanction Russia
After several months of meddling in U.S. elections, Russia will be subject to sanctions imposed by the U.S. government. Thursday afternoon President Obama announced the U.S. response to the Kremlin, and described both covert and public measures taken.
Pres. Obama has been building to this announcement for weeks, hinting that his administration would respond appropriately. The White House Press Secretary’s office released a brief “Statement on Actions in Response to Russian Malicious Cyber Activity and Harassment” to explain the steps Pres. Obama has taken to protect U.S. elections and punish Russia for cyber terrorism.
Obama repeatedly expressed confidence in Russia’ involvement, at one point affirming, “These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government.” According to Pres. Obama’s statement, U.S. diplomats endured harsh treatment and harassment in Moscow, coordinated by Russian security services and police.
In Thursday’s press release, Pres. Obama informed, “I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU [foreign military intelligence main agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia] and the FSB [Federal Security Service of Russia], two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.” In addition to these sanctions, Pres. Obama has shut down two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York, declaring 35 Russian intelligence operatives “persona non grata,” banishing them from the country in the process.
The longer Trump and the president-elect’s advisors deny the reality that Putin intervened to serve Russian political interests, the longer Trump looks like the Kremlin’s puppet. Consensus from the intelligence community should be taken seriously. When the CIA, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security ALL agree on a matter of national security, it behooves everyone especially the future commander-in-chief to heed the advice of intelligence professionals.
Unlike other executive orders issued by Pres. Obama, these sanctions against the Kremlin have bipartisan support. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) both endorse Obama’s aggressive posture with Russia. Despite Trump’s cowardly acquiescence to Putin, he will lose political capital if he attempts to reverse this bipartisan order that protects the integrity of U.S. elections.
When asked about Trump’s reluctance to accept CIA and FBI reports of Russian hacking, Trump advisors reply with the same drivel — ‘Trump won fairly, and any suggestion that Russia hacked is an attempt to discredit his victory.’ Though the results of the election have never been questioned, Trump aides deflect his weak stance on Russian by circling back to nonsense about the election being over.
By ignoring the reality that a foreign power interfered with and corrupted the U.S. political process, Trump not only undermines the results of the 2016 election, but he also encourages future meddling from other foreign powers who may seek to influence U.S. decision-making by using similar cyber terroristic methods.