By Cameron Joseph, New York Daily News–

The Obama administration is close to announcing a series of measures aimed at punishing Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election, U.S. officials tell the Washington Post.

The response will include both economic sanctions and diplomatic censure as well as covert action including cyber operations, according to the report. The public portions of the response may be announced as early as this week.

The planned sanctions response comes amidst continuing controversy over the intelligence community’s agreement that Russian-backed hackers intentionally sought to disrupt the election by hacking the Democratic National Committee and a top staffer of Hillary Clinton. The meddling and subsequent leaks hurt Clinton and helped Trump.

While the intelligence community and the FBI have agreed Russia was behind the leaks and many politicians in both parties concur, Trump has continued to deny that Russia definitively was behind the hacks.

Obama vows vengeance against Russia for election meddling

That puts pressure on the Obama administration to move fast to respond — and creates uncertainty as to what Trump will do in office, given both his longstanding praise of Russia and Vladimir Putin and his refusal to acknowledge who was behind the attacks.

President Obama speaks during a news conference on Dec. 16, 2016.

President Obama speaks during a news conference on Dec. 16, 2016.


“Part of the goal here is to make sure that we have as much of the record public or communicated to Congress in a form that would be difficult to simply walk back,” one senior administration official told the Post, explaining part of the deliberations were to figure out a response Trump couldn’t immediately roll back.

The plan is to use an executive order from last year that gives the president the authority to respond to cyberattacks from overseas, but didn’t originally cover efforts to influence elections. The White House is working to adapt that authority to target Russia, potentially by declaring the election system part of the “critical infrastructure” of the U.S.

“You would (a) have to be able to say that the actual electoral infrastructure, such as state databases, was critical infrastructure, and (b) that what the Russians did actually harmed it,” the administration official told the Post. “Those are two high bars.”