With last night's top nationwide story, the NBC report that according to unnamed CIA sources, Vladimir Putin himself supervised the hacking of the US presidential election (it is still unclear precisely how Putin "hacked the election", or for that matter, what if any proof exists ), making the rounds and as of this moment having been placed front and center on the front page of Reuters.com ...
... it was obvious that this story was not going away just four days before the Dec. 19, Electoral College vote.
And sure enough, on Thursday evening CNN reported that President Barack Obama vowed retaliatory action against Russia for its meddling in the US presidential election, in effect telling Russia he is about to declare cyberwar on it.
"I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we will at a time and place of our own choosing," Obama told National Public Radio. He is certainly right: the only doubt is that a foreign government did in fact try to "impact the integrity of our elections."
Describing potential countermeasures by the US, the President, confirming he had learned something from Donald Trump, said "some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be."
Obama also said he directly confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin about a potential US response, and said his counterpart acknowledged his stance. "Mr. Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it," Obama said.
As CNN adds, Obama and Putin conferred on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in China in September. Afterwards, Obama told reporters he raised cybersecurity with the Russian leader. It was not clear if Obama had told Putin he was prepared to launch World Cyber War I against the Russian, just because Hillary won an election every "expert" in the country said Trump would lose.
Intelligence agencies in October pinned blame on Russia for election-related hacking. At the time, the White House vowed a "proportional response" to the cyberactivity, though declined to preview what that response might entail.
Russia has, of course, laughed off this escalating stupidity. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state TV channel Rossiya-24 that he was "dumbstruck" by the NBC report of Putin's alleged involvement.
"I think this is just silly, and the futility of the attempt to convince somebody of this is absolutely obvious," he said.
Early on Thursday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the AP the report was "laughable nonsense", while Russian foreign ministry spox Maria Zakharova accused "Western media" of being a "shill" and a "mouthpiece of various power groups", and added that "it's not the general public who's being manipulated," Zakharova said. "the general public nowadays can distinguish the truth. It's the mass media that is manipulating themselves."
That may be true, but Obama is set to give it one last try.
As CNN further adds, officials have said US actions against Russia may not be revealed publicly.
Speaking Thursday at the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to say whether the US had already begun its response to Moscow's actions. "The President determined once the intelligence community had reached this assessment that a proportional response was appropriate," Earnest said. "At this point, I don't have anything to say about whether or not that response has been carried out."
Meanwhile, at Hillary Clinton's "thank you" party for billionaire donors, the topic of both Donald Trump and Russian hacking came up, and Hillary told her supporters not to "lose heart."
Spotted arriving at Hillary Clinton "thank you" donor party at The Plaza (former Trump property): Anna Wintour, Harvey Weinstein, Vera Wang— Monica Alba (@albamonica) December 16, 2016
HRC talked Putin & Russian hacking tonight at NYC donor party, per source in the room -- said she was proud to have stood up to Putin as SoS— Monica Alba (@albamonica) December 16, 2016
Per source, Hillary Clinton did not mention Donald Trump in her remarks tonight but told supporters not to "lose heart"— Monica Alba (@albamonica) December 16, 2016
Then there were other, unsubstantiated if more concerning reports:
CNN is reporting that Trump's refusal to acknowledge Russia interference has made White House decide orderly transition isn't main priority— David Yankovich (@DavidYankovich) December 16, 2016
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So what does it all mean? We'll know the answer tomorrow early afternoon.
According to Reuters, President Barack Obama will hold an impromptu press conference at the White House on Friday at 2:15 p.m. ET before leaving for his annual family vacation in Hawaii, the White House said on Thursday. It would be fitting if Obama announced he would start a cyberwar with Russia, then jetted off to the safety of a far off, golf-friendly island.