(CNN) — A top Republican National Committee spokesman refused Saturday to say whether President-elect Donald Trump will take action against Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“I think to presume that he’s going to do anything at this point would be premature. He is not president yet. President Obama has every right to carry out the duties that he sees fit based on the information he has through the rest of his term,” Sean Spicer, who is the leading contender to be Trump’s press secretary, told CNN’s Michael Smerconish.
Spicer was speaking one day after President Barack Obama all but named Russian President Vladimir Putin as behind the cyberintrusion, telling reporters he told him to “cut it out” and vowed retaliation for the moves.
The Obama administration first publicly announced in October that it was “confident” Russia orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations of the Democratic Party. Earlier this month, the CIA announced to a group of top US senators that Russia’s hacks were aimed at helping Trump.
Russian cyberhacking activity has continued largely unabated since the election, including against US political organizations, US officials briefed on the investigation have told CNN.
The President-elect and his team have largely dismissed the intelligence assessment, with Trump’s transition team, citing the fact that much of the information is coming out after the election, saying the leaks are intended to delegitimize his victory.
“It’s interesting how prior to the election when everybody thought Hillary Clinton was clearly going to be the winner they wanted everybody to sit and sign Kumbaya about the integrity of the voting systems. Now that Donald Trump has shown he has won resoundingly, it’s interesting how that tune has changed,” Spicer told Smerconish.
Obama has not revealed what actions he plans to take against Russia and has acknowledged that Trump may reverse any punishment once he takes office.
Spicer said he agreed with Obama’s decision to not disclose how the US will respond to Russia.
“I think I would agree with President Obama on that,” Spicer said. “It would be very, very inappropriate for President-elect Trump to discuss that at this point as well.”