Barack Obama has moved all-in on trying to box in Donald Trump.
His last salvo against the incoming administration involves the false claim that Russia “hacked” the election.
And his response disturbed many Americans.
After the release an evidence-free report — that claimed more than proved — that the Russians hacked the email accounts of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta and staffers at the Democratic National Committee, Obama announced a multi-step response.
He expelled 35 Russian diplomats, closed two facilities — one in New York and one in Maryland — he claimed the Russians were using the facilities for intelligence purposes and imposed sanctions.
The New York Times reported:
“President Obama struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services.
The administration also penalized four top officers of one of those services, the powerful military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U.
Intelligence agencies have concluded that the G.R.U. ordered the attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations, with the approval of the Kremlin, and ultimately enabled the publication of the emails it harvested to benefit Donald J. Trump’s campaign.
The expulsion of the 35 Russians, whom the administration said were spies posing as diplomats and other officials, and their families was in response to the harassment of American diplomats in Russia, State Department officials said. It was unclear if they were involved in the hacking.
In addition, the State Department announced the closing of two waterfront estates — one in Glen Cove, N.Y., and another on Maryland’s Eastern Shore — that it said were used for Russian intelligence activities, although officials declined to say whether they were specifically used in the election-related hacks.”
Many Americans were disturbed that Obama tolerated 35 known Russian spies and two compounds used for intelligence-gathering in the United States, up until the moment Hillary Clinton lost the election.
Either Obama appears to have been ignoring an espionage threat against the United States that operated under his nose, or this was just petty political-payback for Hillary Clinton’s election embarrassment.
The Times also reports it was done to handcuff Trump.
Trump campaigned on reorienting America’s relationship with Russia so the two nations could ally in the fight against ISIS.
The Times writes:
“Taken together, the sweeping actions announced by the White House, the Treasury, the State Department and intelligence agencies on Thursday amount to the strongest American response yet to a state-sponsored cyberattack. They also appeared intended to box in President-elect Donald J. Trump, who will now have to decide whether to lift the sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies when he takes office next month.”
Trump took the high road and said it’s time to “move to bigger and better things.”
And he announced he would meet with intelligence officials to be briefed on the matter.
But former Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News and blasted the decision as appearing to be politically motivated.
The Hill reported:
Conway suggested in a Fox interview Thursday evening that she hopes Obama’s sanctions weren’t an attempt to make Trump’s presidency more difficult.
“I was really disappointed to read in David Sanger’s New York Times piece this evening the allegation or supposition that perhaps one reason that these sanctions are taking place is to quote, ‘box in’ the president-elect, forcing him to take a position or otherwise once he takes office. I hope this isn’t motivated by politics even a little bit,” Conway said.
Expelling intelligence agents will invite a Russian response.
They will most likely kick American intelligence officers out of their country, which will damage our intelligence-gathering capabilities.
And sanctions can be interpreted as an act of war.
For Obama to take such steps over a fake news story about Russia “hacking” the election just to hurt the incoming President disturbs many Americans.