The Obama administration is set to impose sanctions on Russia to punish the country for meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, according to The Washington Post. President Obama pledged this month there would be a response to Moscow’s interference.
U.S. officials told the outlet that the response not only will include public censure, but covert cyber operations against the nation. An announcement describing the public elements could come as early as this week.
Reportedly the announcement is being held up by a debate regarding how to adapt a 2015 executive order that gave the President the authority to levy sanctions against countries who carry out cyber attacks against the U.S., but does not address meddling in elections specifically.
The Post reports that the Obama administration rolled the executive order out as a way to punish and deter foreign hackers who harm U.S. economic or national security; it was used against China for corporate espionage against U.S. companies.
With about three weeks of his administration left, the White House is reportedly working furiously on adapting the authority to punish the Russians. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen not to believe reports from both the CIA and FBI saying that hackers close to the Russian government tried to interfere in the election.
The Post also reports the Trump transition team has not yet had extensive briefings with the White House on cybersecurity issues, including the potential use of the cyber sanctions order.
“I have no confidence that President Trump will bring about any sanctions on Russia. I’m more worried that he’s going to repeal the sanctions we already have than impose new ones,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said this week, according to The Hill. “So I think the administration ought to do what it’s going to do ASAP.”