Obama: I Told Putin to "Cut It Out" Over Hacking

Obama Press Conference
U.S. President Barack Obama participates in his last news conference of the year at the White House before leaving for his annual Hawaiian Christmas holiday in Washington, U.S., December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in September to stop meddling in American political campaigns after hacks of Democratic Party emails in the lead-up to the Nov. 8 elections.

In a pre-Christmas holiday press conference, Obama said he told Putin to "cut it out" during a face-to-face encounter in China where a G20 meeting was being held.

Obama added that after warning Putin, there was no further evidence of Russian tampering. Russia has denied U.S. accusations of cyber attacks against U.S. political figures and institutions ahead of the presidential and congressional elections.

Two senior government officials told Reuters that the FBI backs the CIA's view that Russia intervened to help Republican Donald Trump win the presidential election.

Obama left open the door to U.S. retaliation against Russia to discourage it and other nations from further computer hacking.

The president also said that he hoped that Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, should be similarly concerned about Russia's actions and that the investigation should not become "a political football" between Republicans and Democrats.

Trump has maintained that he won the election fairly and has bristled at suggestions that Moscow influenced the outcome.

But Democrats have repeatedly noted that Trump during his campaign has spoken glowingly about Putin and since winning the election has picked top aides in the incoming administration with ties to Russia.

At one point during the heated presidential campaign, Trump publicly encouraged Russia to hack Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's emails.