In his end-of-horror-show speech back in December, Obama addressed the issue of Russian interference in the US election:
And so in early September when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that did not happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out, there were going to be some serious consequences if he did not.
And in fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process. But the leaks through Wikileaks had already occurred.
So when I look back in terms of how we handled it, I think we handled it the way it should have been handled. We allowed law enforcement and the intelligence community to do its job without political influence.
This is the kind of internet-tough-guy bluster we got so used to with Obama. Here we find that his “cut it out” message had as much effect on Putin as his “red line” had on Syria’s Assad.
Yesterday, The Intercept posted a story based on an NSA document leaked to them by an NSA contractor. The story shows that not only did the Russians NOT ‘cut it out’ but they continued efforts as late as November 1.
The NSA assessed that this phase of the spear-fishing operation was likely launched on either October 31 or November 1 and sent spear-fishing emails to 122 email addresses “associated with named local government organizations,” probably to officials “involved in the management of voter registration systems.” …
At a December press conference, President Obama said that he told Russian President Vladimir Putin in September not to hack the U.S. election infrastructure. “What I was concerned about in particular was making sure [the DNC hack] wasn’t compounded by potential hacking that could hamper vote counting, affect the actual election process itself,” Obama said. “So in early September, when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn’t happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn’t. And in fact we did not see further tampering of the election process.”
Yet the NSA has now found that the tampering continued. “The fact that this is occurring in October is troubling,” said one senior law enforcement official with significant cyber expertise. “In August 2016 warnings went out from the FBI and DHS to those agencies. This was not a surprise. This was not hard to defend against. But you needed a commitment of budget and attention.”
In short, his “cut it out” message had as much effect on Putin as his “red line” had on Syria’s Assad.
This is pretty much in line with everything else that we know about the whole ‘election interference’ story. The Obama administration, the FBI, and the Intelligence Community were all aware that the Russians were undertaking various actions aimed at our election processes but they didn’t take them seriously because they assumed that their preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, was a shoo-in. The Russian interference has only become an issue inasmuch as it is now a handy club with which to beat the Trump administration.