The Obama administration is preparing to penalize Russia over the hacking of Democratic officials during this year’s presidential election and could take action very soon, officials said Wednesday.
Anticipating an imminent announcement, Russia continued to deny the hacking allegations and condemned reports of new sanctions as “provocation directed by the White House.”
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters: “To be honest, we are tired of lie about the ‘Russian hackers,’ which is being poured down in the United States from the very top.”
President Obama told reporters earlier this month he would retaliate against the Russians but noted that his actions may or may not be made public.
“Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us, because we can do stuff to you,” the president said.
The Obama administration and U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of getting involved in the election in an effort to help Donald Trump win.
Trump has questioned whether Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic officials’ email acounts, and he said Democrats are pushing the story in order to explain away Hillary Clinton’s loss.
Two Republican senators — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona — said they support new sanctions on Russia, but they should be imposed by the next Congress and the incoming Trump administration.
“The bottom line is you need to hit Russia in a sustained fashion,” Graham told Fox News, “so if Obama tries to do something going out the door that’s not sustained, then you send the wrong signal.”
Graham called for sanctions on Russia’s energy sector and said that Russia President Vladimir Putin should be singled out.