John Kerry has refused to confirm anonymous intelligence reports alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in hacking the U.S. election.
On Wednesday evening, NBC News reported that “senior intelligence officials” had provided them with evidence that proved Putin authorised hackers to influence the U.S. election in order to help Donald Trump win.
“I am not going to comment on anonymous reports from intelligence officials that are not identified that have quotes around the concept of intelligence officials,” Kerry said at the press briefing.
Kerry also pointed to statements made by President Barack Obama in October, warning of “Russian-directed hackers” who were attempting to influence the election.
Meanwhile at the White House, the Obama administration suggested that Putin was, in fact, personally involved — though no evidence to back up their allegations were provided.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnst also claimed on Thursday that it was a “fact” that hacking had helped Trump’s campaign, and that he “must have known” about Russian interference as he had joked about encouraging Russia to find the 33,000 emails that Hillary Clinton had deleted from her private server.
“A wide variety of aspects of the situation will be considered,” Earnest said. President Obama and his team are set to “cast a wide net” in weighing the arguments about the truth of what happened for “formulating an effective proportional response.” The ‘proportionality’ of the response will consider the impact of hacking, alleged interferences in the election process, and the level of sophistication by malicious agents.
“I would acknowledge that designing a response seems subjective,” he said, adding “it is true.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed the Russian hacking allegations as baseless and unfounded, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the charges are an attempt to distract American voters from domestic issues. Likewise, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called the allegations “a hysterical election-year campaign tactic.”