A former senior Obama official reportedly told the Washington Post that the previous administration did know that Russia was meddling in the election, but they "sort of choked" in response. The Post published the report Friday.
"It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend," the official said. "I feel like we sort of choked."
The report says that the Obama administration knew that Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin himself had ordered the alleged cyberattacks in order to trip up Democrat Hillary Clinton and aid Republican Donald Trump.
CIA Director John Brennan first notified the president, and their assessment was verified by the other intelligence agencies in the subsequent weeks.
The Post says former President Obama considered many different retaliatory measures against Putin, even to the point of releasing damaging information gathered by the CIA to embarrass Putin, and imposing sanctions to derail the Russian economy.
But in the end, he ordered very modest measures against the Russian Federation.
In December the government shut down known Russian spy compounds on American soil and imposed light sanctions targeted against specific Russian government officials and operatives. The Post reported in May that the Trump administration was considering returning the compounds to the Russian government.
Obama had also told the press in December that he had personally told Putin to "cut it out" on the meddling in the election.
“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,” the president said at a press conference. “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.”
Obama's former deputy national security adviser, Tony Blinken, acknowledged that warning from Obama to Putin, saying that they believed they deterred him from further meddling, but that the "damage was done."
"We made massive efforts so they couldn't do that," Blinken said to CNN's Kate Bolduan. "This led to two things: President Obama issued a very stark warning to President Putin in September at the G-20 conference in China. What we saw, or thought we saw, after that, it looked like the Russians stopped their efforts. But the damage was already done."