Trump to be briefed next week on Russian hacking

Washington, Dec 30 (IANS) US President-elect Donald Trump has said that he will be briefed by the US intelligence officials on alleged Russian hacking aimed at influencing the November 8 election, media reports said on Friday.

“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things. Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation,” he said in a short statement.

Trump, who has dismissed accusations that Russia sought to help him in his race with Democrat Hillary Clinton, issued the statement hours after the US government announced new economic sanctions on Russia, Efe news reported.

The Barack Obama administration expelled 35 Russian officials in reprisal for the alleged cyber attacks and for harassment of US diplomats in Russia.

The claim of Russian meddling arose following the publication by WikiLeaks of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and from the chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign, John Podesta.

The content of those e-mails cast Clinton and the DNC in a negative light.

US intelligence officials concluded that Russia intervened to help Republican candidate Trump win the presidential election, though WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that Russia was not the source of the material he published.

The officials also said they were certain Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the putative hacking.

Trump called during the campaign for better relations with Moscow and has exchanged cordial messages with Putin since the election.

“These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicised,” President Barack Obama said of the measures announced Thursday.

The White House said that the steps respond to two separate issues: malicious cyber activity and the harassment of the US diplomats in Russia.

On the cyber front, Obama ordered sanctions against Russia’s two main intelligence agencies, the GRU and FSB; four individual GRU officers; and three companies that aided GRU cyber operations.

Regarding the second grievance, the US State Department gave 35 Russian diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

The designated officials, who were assigned to Russia’s embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate in San Francisco, engaged in conduct “inconsistent with their diplomatic status.”

The State Department also barred Russian officials from entering two Russian-owned compounds located in Maryland and New York, respectively.

“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” Obama said.

“In October, my administration publicised our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the US election process.

“These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government,” the President said.

“In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the US and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance.

“To that end, my administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election,” Obama said.

Trump’s spokesman said earlier on Thursday that the administration should provide evidence of Russian meddling.

“If the US has clear proof of anyone interfering with our elections, we should make that known,” Sean Spicer said in a conference call with reporters.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, which has repeatedly denied the accusations of hacking, called the new sanctions imposed by Washington “futile and counterproductive.”

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also had harsh words about the latest US measures against Russia.

“Such steps of the US administration that has three weeks left to work are aimed at two things: to further harm Russian-American ties, which are at a low point as it is…”

“For now I cannot say what will be our response. Although, as we know, we have no other alternative than to abide by a principle of reciprocity. Naturally, we will issue an adequate response,” the Kremlin spokesman said

Top