In its final months, the Obama administration debated dozens of options to punish Russia for its cyber campaign to disrupt U.S. democracy, according to a new report.
The Washington Post published a deeply sourced article Friday morning on former President Barack Obama’s secret campaign to make Moscow pay for attempting to influence and discredit last year’s presidential election.
Last August, Obama received a report from the CIA that Russian President Vladimir Putin laid out specific instructions to damage or defeat then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help elect Trump, according to the Post.
“He also has a personal animus toward Hillary Clinton, whom he blames for uprisings in Russia several years ago when he returned as president of Russia. There were protests — lots of protests. And he still believes that a lot of that activity was incited not just by the United States, but by Hillary Clinton,” one of the report’s authors, Greg Miller, said on the “Can he do that?” podcast.
Though Obama approved retaliatory measures in late December — sanctions and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats — they were modest compared to the more aggressive alternatives the White House had reportedly considered: stronger sanctions that would “crater” Russia’s economy, the release of material (gathered by the CIA) that would humiliate Putin and cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure.
In fact, according to the Washington Post report, which cites more than three dozen current and former senior U.S. government officials, Obama had authorized “planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure — the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow.”
“The project, which Obama approved…