The Obama administration announced sweeping new measures against Russia on Thursday in retaliation for what U.S. officials have characterized as interference in this fall’s presidential election, ordering the expulsion of Russian “intelligence operatives” and slapping new sanctions on state agencies and individuals suspected in the hacks of U.S. computer systems.
The response, unveiled just weeks before President Obama leaves office, culminates months of internal debate over how to react to Russia’s election-year provocations. In recent months, the FBI and CIA have concluded that Russia intervened repeatedly in the 2016 election, leaking damaging information in an attempt to undermine the electoral process and help Donald Trump take the White House.
Because Thursday’s announcement is an executive action, it can be undone by the next administration. But Obama’s last-minute measures put pressure on Trump, who has largely waved off the allegations against Russia, to make a decision about whether to keep the punitive measures in place.