President Barack Obama has said that he ordered Russian President, Vladimir Putin to “cut it out” in a conversation about email hacking ahead of the U.S election.
Implying that the Russian president knew about the hacks, Obama said: “Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin.”
President Obama said he had warned Putin of serious consequences at a summit in September, 2016.
A month later, the U.S accused Russia of meddling in its democratic process.
Obama has promised a “proportional” response to the hacking of the Democratic Party and of emails belonging to defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
Obama appeared to suggest that the US could go on the offensive with its own cyber muscle, stating: “Whatever they do to us, we can potentially do to them.”
His (Obama) comments came during his last news conference of the year.
President Obama did not criticise his successor, Republican Donald Trump, by name, but said some Republicans were failing to acknowledge the seriousness of Russia’s involvement in the U.S election.
Obama also expressed bewilderment over GOP supporters who say they approve of Putin, declaring: “Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.”
The president urged Trump to back a bipartisan investigation into Russian cyber intrusions.
Donald Trump, earlier this week poured scorn on U.S intelligence claims that Russian hackers helped swing the election in his favour, calling them ridiculous and politically-motivated.
“Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card? It would be called conspiracy theory,” he tweeted.
CIA Director John Brennan told employees on December 16 that the FBI agrees with the CIA’s conclusion that Russia’s goal was to help Trump win.
The Kremlin denies U.S claims that Russia hacked official emails, and has called them “indecent”.
According to Putin’s spokesman “They need to either stop talking about this or finally present some sort of proof”
The Kremlin’s response came as Mrs. Clinton attributed her election defeat to Russian hacking for the first time.
Mrs Clinton told party donors that President Putin had a “personal beef” against her for describing Russia’s parliamentary elections 5 years ago as rigged.
Mrs Clinton also cited the release of a letter by FBI director James Comey as having lost her close races in key states.
Comey made headlines when he announced a new inquiry into Mrs Clinton’s email server 11 days before the presidential election. The matter was dropped two days before Americans voted.
The FBI had previously concluded that Mrs Clinton had been “extremely careless” over her use of a private email server while secretary of state, but there were no grounds for any charges.
The New York Times said Mrs Clinton’s comments were her first on the subject since widespread reports of the hacking surfaced before the election.
Quoted by the Times, Mrs Clinton said “Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,”
“This is not just an attack on me and my campaign, although that may have added fuel to it. This is an attack against our country. We are well beyond normal political concerns here. This is about the integrity of our democracy and the security of our nation.”