The Obama administration plans a “proportional” response to punish Russia for hacking into the Democratic National Committee and other cyberattacks aimed at disrupting Nov. 8 elections, a White House spokesman said Monday.
Spokesman Josh Earnest said Russia would not be given warning.
“It is unlikely that our response would be announced in advance,” Earnest said, without specifying if the retaliation would be a cyberattack or other action.
“The president has talked before about the significant capabilities that the U.S. government has to both defend our systems in the United States but also carry out offensive operations in other countries,” Earnest said, according to a pool report. “So there are a range of responses that are available to the president and he will consider a response that is proportional.”
The Obama administration on Friday asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government ordered the hacking into various U.S. political groups, including the DNC. The cyberattacks have brought bipartisan calls for retaliation, including a demand by a Texas Republican congressman, Will Hurd, a former CIA officer, that the Russian ambassador to the United States be kicked out.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has decried what it calls “unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria” in the United States.
The hacks, first announced in June, were followed by the release of some 20,000 internal emails from Democratic Party officials on the WikiLeaks website. The leak led to the ouster of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chairwoman, days before the party’s national convention.
In its accusation last Friday, the government said the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus was “confident” that Russia was behind the attacks but said hackers were unlikely to interfere further with the upcoming election.
Republican nominee Donald Trump refused in Sunday’s presidential debate to recognize that Russia was behind the hack, saying Hillary Clinton used the accusation as a smear.
Trump in late July asked Russia to use its hackers to find thousands of emails that went missing from Clinton’s private server, later saying he was using sarcasm.
“She doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking,” Trump said. “But they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know nothing about Russia. I know – I know about Russia, but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia.”