Even though Barack Obama knew about recurrent cyberattacks months before the actual election, he chose not to interfere because most of the administration assumed Clinton would win, the Washington Post reports.
Back in August, Obama received a highly classified intelligence report outlining the exploits of hackers in the Democratic National Committee’s computer networks in attempts to damage or discredit presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The report tied the hackers to the Russian government and, even further, operated on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct instructions to help gain support for Donald Trump’s candidacy.
While the Obama administration debated on how to best deal with the information, Obama ultimately chose against strong, direct action before the election. Instead, the former administration ejected 35 Russian diplomats from the country, issued a series of warnings and brought in sanctions against Russia that many saw as merely symbolic.
“Our primary interest in August, September and October was to prevent them from doing the max they could do,” a senior Obama administration official told The Washington Post. “We made the judgment that we had ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures.”
According to The Washington Post, the assumption that Clinton would get elected played a part in the administration’s failure to act when they first learned about the hackers — even as evidence of someone going through Democratic Party computer networks mounted.
“It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” another senior Obama administration official told The Washington Post. “I feel like we sort of choked.”
NOW WATCH: ‘Do you even understand what you’re asking?’: Putin and Megyn Kelly have a heated exchange over Trump-Russia ties
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.