Obama punts on Russian interference in 2016 election
At a Friday afternoon press conference in the White House’s Brady Briefing Room, President Barack Obama said that he hopes President-elect Trump will vigorously pursue investigations into Russian tampering in the 2016 election.
The president began by touting his record at home and abroad and by saying that after everything the U.S. has accomplished in the last eight years, “I could not be prouder to be your president.”
“Being an American means bearing burdens and meeting obligations to others,” he said, and assured the throng of media present that the U.S. will continue to meet its obligations to its allies around the world.
“We have done everything we can to ensure” that the Trump transition team will be successful, he said.
Obama said that he hopes that President-elect Trump will vigorously pursue investigations into the hacking of the 2016 election.
He said that the reason that the current administration did not pursue questions about the integrity of the election prior to the election is because it would have done the leakers’ work for them.
In our current “hyper-partisan” environment, he said, to pursue action against the hackers would have become “just another political scrum.”
“There was nobody here who didn’t have some sense of what kind of effect it might have,” he said. “I’m finding it a little curious that you guys are suddenly talking about how it disadvantaged Hillary Clinton” when the media ran with the stories so eagerly.
He expressed bafflement that such an important election became vulnerable to “these kinds of manipulations.”
“That concerns me and it should concern all of us,” he said, “but the truth of the matter is that we all had the information that was out there.”
He said this brings up two major points:
The first is the need for constant vigilance with regard to cyber security. Our infrastructure and, yes, elections are vulnerable and the country needs to take on a systematic plan to defend them.
We should also, he said, “warn other countries against these kinds of attacks.”
He said that some measures taken against the Russians will be public, but others will not be visible to the public at large.
“Public shaming” on the matter, he said, fails to understand how the Russians view the situation.
Obama was addressing reports by intelligence groups that Russian state actors subverted the U.S. election process through cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns and other means.
The president spoke to the press before he and the First Family were to depart for Hawaii on their annual Christmas trip. It is their last Christmas in the White House.