The Obama administration sanctioned Russian officials on Thursday over claims that they interfered in this year’s election by hacking the emails of Democratic Party officials.
The sanctions apply to individuals involved in “tampering with, altering, or causing a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions,” according to an executive order signed by President Obama.
A statement from the Treasury Department listed six individuals and five entities. Several of the individuals are tied to the Russian military intelligence agency.
U.S.intelligence agencies have accused the Russians of getting involved in the election in order to help Trump win, accusations that President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have denied. These agencies are conducting a formal investigation, and Congress is likely to conduct a probe of its own.
Obama had pledged a response earlier this month, and also suggested that covert activity may be involved.
Trump, who has questioned whether the Russians were involved in the hacking, expressed skepticism about sanctions in speaking with reporters Wednesday night.
“I think we ought to get on with our lives,” Trump said, adding: “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly — the whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on.”
Trump and his aides have also said that Democrats are pushing the Russia hack story as part of an effort to explain away the loss by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Anticipating the sanctions Wednesday, Russia accused Obama of acting out of spite, and pledged retaliation.
“People in the White House need to understand clearly that if Washington really takes new hostile steps, then it will receive a response,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a video statement.
Trump harped on the email releases during his campaign against Clinton, claiming the reflected favors the secretary of state and her team did for contributors to the Clinton Foundation. Clinton backers cited Trump statements that seemed to encourage the Russians to hack Clinton herself.
Leaked emails also reflected tensions within the Democratic Party. The leaks to the resignation of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, amid claims that the party favored Clinton over primary rival Bernie Sanders.
Thursday’s sanctions are essentially additions of ones the Obama administration placed on Russia after it annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine.