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Obama warns Putin before departing for Hawaii

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama waved as they boarded Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base today. The Obama family is headed to Hawaii.

WASHINGTON >> President Barack Obama put Russia’s Vladimir Putin on notice today that the U.S. could use offensive cyber muscle to retaliate for interference in the U.S. presidential election, his strongest suggestion to date that Putin had been well aware of campaign email hacking.

“Whatever they do to us, we can potentially do to them,” Obama declared.

Caught in the middle of a post-election controversy over Russian hacking, Obama strongly defended his administration’s response, including his refusal before the voting to ascribe motive to the meddling or to discuss now what effect it might have had. U.S. intelligence assessments say it was aimed at least in part on helping Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, and some Democrats say it may well have tipped the results in his favor.

Though Obama avoided criticizing President-elect Trump by name, he called out Republicans who he said fail even now to acknowledge the seriousness of Russia’s involvement in U.S. elections.

Obama expressed bewilderment about GOP lawmakers and voters who now say they approve of Putin, and he said unless that changes the U.S. will be vulnerable to foreign influence.

“Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave,” Obama said as he closed out the year at a White House news conference. Afterward he left for the family’s annual vacation in Hawaii.

Obama declined to state explicitly that Putin knew about the email hacking that roiled the presidential race, but he left no doubt who he felt was responsible. He said that “not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin” and repeated a U.S. intelligence assessment “that this happened at the highest levels of the Russian government.”

Obama said he confronted Putin in September, telling the former KGB chief to “cut it out.” That was one month before the U.S. publicly pointed the finger at Russia. Suggesting his directive to Putin had been effective, Obama said the U.S. “did not see further tampering” after that date.

The president has promised a “proportional” yet unspecified response to the hacking of the Democratic Party and Clinton’s campaign chairman. Emails stolen during the campaign were released in the final weeks by WikiLeaks. CIA Director John Brennan said in a message today to employees that the FBI agrees with the CIA’s conclusion that Russia’s goal was to help Trump win.

Trump has dismissed the CIA’s assessment and talk about Russian hacking as “ridiculous,” while arguing both Democrats and the CIA are trying to undermine the legitimacy of his victory. He made no mention of the hacking — or of Obama — during the latest stop on his “thank you” tour in Orlando, Florida, Friday night.

Clinton has even more directly cited Russian interference. She said Thursday night, “Vladimir Putin himself directed the covert cyberattacks against our electoral system, against our democracy, apparently because he has a personal beef against me.”

The Senate intelligence committee said today that it will conduct a bipartisan investigation and hold hearings about what led the intelligence agencies’ finding. “The committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads,” said chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

At the same time, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House intelligence committee, complained that his committee’s oversight into the hacking has been stymied because the intelligence agencies have not provided information to the committee.

Obama said he’d leave it to political pundits to debate the question of whether the hacking swayed the election outcome. He did, however, chide the media for that he called an “obsession” with the emails that were made public during the election’s final stretch.

He said his reticence to detail publicly the U.S. response to Russia reflected a need to retaliate “in a thoughtful, methodical way.”

“The idea that somehow public shaming is gonna be effective, I think doesn’t read the thought process in Russia very well,” Obama said.

Accusations of Russian election interference have heightened the already tense relationship between Washington and Moscow. Separately, Obama has blamed Russia for standing in the way of international efforts to stop the civil war in Syria, where government forces have beaten back rebels in Aleppo.

Obama said he feels “responsible” for some of the suffering in Syria, but he defended his decision to avoid significant military action there. He said that while military options short of invasion were tempting, it was “impossible to do this on the cheap.”

Still, he pinned the bulk of the blame on Russia, as well as Iran, for propping up Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“This blood and these atrocities are on their hands,” he said.

Meanwhile, the president rejected any notion that the dispute over hacking was disrupting efforts to smoothly transfer power to Trump. Despite fiercely criticizing each other during the election, Obama and Trump have spoken multiple times since the campaign ended.

“He has listened,” Obama said of Trump. “I can’t say he will end up implementing. But the conversations themselves have been cordial.”

The president did weigh in on Trump’s decision to speak with the leader of Taiwan, a recent phone call that broke decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol. Obama advised Trump to “think it through” before making changes in the One-China policy, in which the U.S. recognizes Taiwan as part of China.

In a moment of self-reflection, Obama acknowledged he had not been able to transfer his own popularity and electoral success to other Democrats. His party is now reeling from the White House loss and failure to win back either the House or Senate.

“It is not something that I’ve been able to transfer to candidates in midterms or build a sustaining organization around,” Obama said. “That’s something I would have liked to have done more of, but it’s kind of hard to do when you’re dealing with a whole bunch of issues here in the White House.”

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      • More than that, we’ll “hack” their election (even though only one candidate is running), that will show them who’s boss.

        I was going to use the term shaking in his boots but you beat me to it!

        • Oh boy oh boy oh boy, THIS time I’m REALLY gonna draw that RED LINE and then I’ll TRIPLE DOG DARE YA to cross it and THEN you’ll be sorry.

          You just wait and see.

          So there!

          ((Meanwhile the real “legacy” is forming: AleppObamAleppObamAleppObamAleppObamAleppObamAleppObamAleppObamAleppObamAleppObamAleppO . . . ad infinitem))

        • Obama has failed in his promise for change. He is all mouth and no action. One waha buggah. Agree Putin is laughing his butt off drunk on the best vodka in Russia.

    • So in the past 24 hrs –

      – He tells Putin the equivalent of “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo, stick your head in doodoo”
      – The Chinese steal an underwater drone
      – He comes running to Hawaii to play golf

      Oh I love Christmas here in Hawaii…Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain

  • right . . . he’s making a list . . . checking it twice . . . red lines for the naughty . . . how’s that working so far?

    so he’s got his red pen out, wondering where in the sky to draw another red line. one for putin for syria, another for putin for the ukraine, and another for “person of interest” for causing clinton to lose the election.

    and a red line for iran for kidnapping american sailors, one for north korea for firing off missiles, one for china for building an island in the ocean to claim more sovereign land, another for china for stealing a drone in broad daylight, one for syria for chemical weapon use and a double red line for all those homies that didn’t respect his legacy by voting for clinton.

    yeah, i’d take a break from all that red line drawing too.

  • What a joke. Having done nothing for 8 years. I doubt any country has a problem intimidating America after Obama. This guy is so insecure and unaware, his comments regarding China will leave a nasty situation for the incoming President. The Chinese just backhanded Obama by taking the drone, and after watching what he didn’t do in Syria after the “red line in the sand” thing, I don’t think they’re very worried at all. Obama has been a disaster for us, and the entire planet. Everyone is less safe today than they were just 8 years ago. Pathetic.

    • Straight up and 100% correct. This stuff with the Russian hacking is the equivalent of “the dog ate my homework”. So now we see the end result of our nations first and hopefully only affirmative action presidency. Putting aside for now that Barry is as much white as he is black. Strip away the veneer and Barry is just a run of the mill rabble rouser with an Ivy League degree. He had no record of accomplishment coming into the game yet the progressive MSM propped him up and labeled anyone who dared question him as racist. Well that tactic has run it’s course and history will judge Barry Hussein as the incompetent rube that he really is. Just stand by as the MSM again shames itself in a feeble attempt to burnish Barry’s legacy as he fades away.

      • Yet he pulled the country out of the worst recession since the great depression. Today the stock market is now close to 20,000 instead of being under 7000. Unemployment instead of being at 10% is less than half of that. Certainly a lot better today than when Obama became president. Now we have a clown coming in as president who like past republican presidents before him will soon give us an economic meltdown. I have taken steps to protect myself from this voodoo.

        • I agree and with a very hostile congress to boot. I rather think they could not accept the fact that a person of color was elected to the presidency and fought him all the way. There is not comparison as to the character of our soon to be retired president and president elect. Ask yourself why the spike of hate-crimes and the support of groups such as the KKK for the president-elect? Why are school kids harassing Latino kids? This is not coincidental. If I behaved or said the things the president elect said, my parents would beat me.

        • The only reason Obama got elected was because he is a person of color. It was his turn and he failed miserably. Now we have a real leader. A bright future is at hand.

    • Reminds me of the Monty Python movie where the Knight on a horse proceeds to chop off another Knight’s arms and legs. Between each stroke the person getting his limbs caught off warns the knight on the horse, to the effect of, ” you better stop or you’re in big trouble…”

  • In a race that close, if there’s any little thing that tips the scale in favor of one side, that essentially decides the election. The hackers found several compromising emails (nothing criminal, mostly just embarrassing) out of thousands, and released them to tip the undecideds toward one candidate.

    Why did the Russians help Trump? Was it because:

    1) They want a POTUS they can manipulate?
    2) Trump is in cahoots with Russia?
    3) Other: _________________?

    • The election I witnessed was a TOTAL SHOCKING BLOWOUT GIGANTUAN LOPSIDED LANDSLIDE LOSS…Crooked hiLIARy was left in a drunken stupor……what race are you referring to?

      • lol, I just remind you of you republican reaction when Bill Clinton won. He was not legit as he did not receive a majority of the vote. Now we have a republican president who didn’t even receive a plurality of a vote. Love your consistency. Enjoy your voodoo while it lasts. It won’t be long before the Donald plunges the nation into another economic black hole.

    • IRT MillionMonkeys: Do you believe that Hillary receiving debate questions prior to the debate, or the media allowing Dems to review an article before publication, or a Moderator in the debate “in the tank” for one candidate could “tip the scale” in Hillary’s favor? And do you really believe Hillary has the stamina to be President? I honestly believe she should be focusing on her health. Recall when she appeared to almost pass out as she was entering her Limo? And she didn’t have a heavy schedule at all. In fact, it apeared she would alternate campaign days.

      • Yes, cajaybird, receiving debate questions prior to the debate was not a good thing. Also not the worst thing for a campaign team, and all the details are not clear. What’s certain is that former DNC chairperson Donna Brazile made some judgment errors and was rightly fired by CNN as a commentator.

        It looks like someone at CNN mistakenly let out a little more information than they should have to Brazile. She passed on what info she had to the Clinton camp, hints about one question at a debate and another question at a town hall. It apparently wasn’t useful info, because the actual questions were different from what Brizile had hinted at, and Clinton didn’t answer the questions so well.

        So definitely a strike against the Clinton team, but Brazile’s unwise and unscrupulous leaks did not apparently help Clinton at the debate. No other emails released of Hillary or Podesta replying or actively involved in this cheating scam. Not to excuse or condemn Hillary herself, but Brazile is the one who seems to have gone off the deep end.

        Thanks for bringing up a good point and reading my post.

    • Nope. Russia didn’t do what they did to help Trump win. They couldn’t care less who won. They were merely sticking it in the eye of Obama and Clinton and laughing their butts off. That you can take to the bank!

    • The election wasn’t even supposed to be close. Talk about Trump tweeting? Huma, Podesta and Hilliary shouldn’t email. That’s what did them in, Nobody’s fault but their own.

      • If you look at thousands of anyone’s emails—yours, mine, Podesta, Clinton, Kanye West, anyone—it’s very likely you’ll find at least a couple of compromising messages. You agree? Yes.

        Can you imagine looking at the emails of Trump and his posse (Giulani, Gingrich, Christie, Manafort, Bannon, etc.)? Can you imagine the f-bombs, back-stabbing, genital-grabbing references, etc.? Like anyone else, of course. I imagine the clever Russian hackers already have hacked and retrieved their emails.

        The question is, when will the Russians release Trump team emails? Probably when it serves their purposes…

  • Sadly, it isn’t about Obama’s own popularity, which truthfully, is a little mystifying. After all we can put forth that Trump has no experience etc., but neither did Obama. What must be acknowledged is, no matter how anyone characterizes the administration of Barack Obama historically, being cool doesn’t translate to being effective. Barack Obama brought a quiet reserve to the White House, and that is something we have been trained to admire through movies, tv, and social media. It doesn’t necessarily make for a good leader. Sometimes a leader is fiery. People voted for change. I don’t think everyone really knows what kind of change they want, or are prepared for what they may get, but they want something. Nothing cold and rational about that. So if Mr. Obama truly feels he is that popular, the facts before us say otherwise.

  • Another story that fails to mention that the founder of Wikileaks himself denies Russia giving them the emails. An inside job that O will never admit.

  • Obama is a JOKE ! This guy needs to get packing, can’t happen soon enough. The fact he is blaming Russia for Hilarys defeat is incredible and shows how out of touch the demo are in this country. And please stay at kaneohe base or your home, sodding make the traffic any worse for us locals.

    As for our state we vote the same mayor in over the R because we say S T U P I D….BRAH

    • I read that Obama decided not to discuss this issue before the election from fear that if Clinton won, it’d create a stir. So it comes out now. What a joke. And as others have said, Putin is smiling big time as Obama was like a fly … annoying at times but harmless.

  • Yes, a good stern warning from President Obama ought set Putin on a straight path. Next he needs to straighten out those Chinese folks and that will settle all the problems. Thank goodness we have such we have such a implacable leader.

  • Trumpf is now kow towing to communist Putin. A KGB executive. The right always called Obama a commie. I say trumpf is a sock caulking Putin puppy. He will use trumpf during his Viagra induced twitter and twist his hairspray around. The new trumpies are now drinking Donalds GooAid.

    • One of the most comical things about the aftermath of the total Trump triumph is watching the sour grapes set melt down like Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy from Kansas hit her with a bucket of water.

      • And one of the most comical things about phony conservatives is their acceptance of Putin as a good guy. Not saying this is bad but it is a huge departure from past republicans who refer to Russia as the evil empire. Good to see you are embracing Russia. Probably better than thinking of them as evil.

  • what a liar you are Obama get over it you liberals lost the election, I hope you brought your play dough, clay and coloring book and crayons to help your depressed and demented mind, you really need help.

  • Putin knows that he has always intimidated BO and that BO has been terrified of him. Any slap on the hand response by BO will be a joke and ineffective like everything else that
    he has done during his two terms. Actually the Russians are sorry to see BO go as they have been able to use him more than any other world leader. Hope that it rains and pours
    during the BO family vacation. He does not deserve another vacation using tax payers money. I am sure one of the topics on BO’s agenda is discussing with Hawaii democratic party
    officials about pardoning Albert Hee, the criminal who donated hundreds of thousands of stolen dollars to BO and other democrats. If he can pardon sex offenders and other
    creepy people, he can sure pardon Albert Hee after all Al has food allergies.

  • Lots of negative comments about President Obama here. smh. I’m glad Clinton is not our POTUS, however, not much faith in Trump either. The blame falls entirely on the DNC for this presidential election, they are the one who put forth a candidate that was unlikable, has a sketchy time with truthfulness and fell short of being trustworthy, to me. However, as long or short tine left in office, we need to stand by our local son, President BBarak Obama.

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