President Barack Obama in his final news conference of the year defended the way the U.S. government and intelligence communities handled Russia's intervention in the election.
Obama explained that there were already many sanctions against Russia, and he believed that the responses to these actions should be done in a "thoughtful, methodical way." He mentioned that the relationship between the U.S. and Russia has unfortunately deteriorated over the past several years. Some of what the U.S. does in response is publicized, he said, but some of it isn't revealed.
"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," he said.
Obama said when he saw Russian President Vladimir Putin in China in early September, he told him to "cut it out" and that "there would be some serious consequences if he didn't." In the aftermath of that meeting, he said, the government did not see further tampering of the election process. He said he felt at the time that it was the most effective way to ensure that the hacking did not escalate and affect the actual election.
"When I look back in terms of how we handled it, I think we handled it the way it should've been handled," Obama said. "We allowed law enforcement and the intelligence community to do its job without political influence, we briefed all relevant parties involved, when we had a consensus around what had happened we announced it ... through the intelligence communities that had actually carried out these investigations."
He did not go as far as saying the hacking caused Hillary Clinton to lose, but said she was treated unfairly during the election. He said he considered it important that the hacking did not create a political football, noting that at the time Donald Trump was frequently calling into question the integrity of the election. His principal goal leading up to the election was making sure the election itself went off without a hitch.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.