President-elect Donald Trump responded Thursday to President Barack Obama’s fresh sanctions against Russia, saying it was “time to move on” but adding that he would still meet with US intelligence officials to discuss Russian involvement in election hacks.
“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in a brief evening statement.
The president-elect continued: “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”
The statement came hours after Obama announced new sanctions against Russian officials, which included the removal of 35 Russian intelligence officials from the US, in addition to sanctions from the Treasury Department against two other Russian individuals.
Obama said in a statement that those actions were “not the sum total of our response” and that his administration would provide a report to Congress in the coming days related to Russia’s suspected “efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyberactivity related to our election cycle in previous terms.”
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security then released a joint analysis report on Russian hacking.
Russia swiftly responded, assuring that Washington would “receive an answer” if “new hostile steps” were taken.
“This applies to any actions against Russian diplomatic missions in the United States, which will immediately backfire at US diplomats in Russia,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement. “The Obama administration probably does not care at all about the future of bilateral relations, but history will hardly forgive it for this après-nous-le-deluge attitude.”
Recent public revelations showed that US intelligence tied the election-related hacking of Democratic political organizations and operatives such as Clinton campaign chair John Podesta to senior Russian officials. The CIA has concluded that Russia intervened in the US election to try to tip the scales toward Trump, though other agencies haven’t gone as far in their assessments.
Both Republicans and Democrats have called for action to be taken against Russia because of the hacking. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona have been two of the loudest voices on that front. Graham; McCain; Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska; Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate majority leader; and House Speaker Paul Ryan all released statements shortly following Obama’s announcement that criticized Russia while calling out Obama for not going harder on the nation’s government in previous years.
Russia has repeatedly denied its involvement in the hacking, and Trump has refused to acknowledge that Russia had involvement in election-related hacks. He said Wednesday that “we ought to get on with our lives.”
“I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly,” he told reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on.”