US slaps sanctions on Russia, expels 35 diplomats; Moscow to consider retaliatory measures

    President Barack Obama pauses during a news conference, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has imposed sanctions on Russian officials and intelligence services in retaliation for Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election by hacking American political sites and email accounts.

    The State Department also has kicked out 35 Russian diplomats from its embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco, giving them and their families 72 hours to leave the U.S. The diplomats were declared persona non grata for acting in a "manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status."

    "All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions," Obama said in a statement.

    Obama said Russians will no longer have access to two Russian government-owned compounds in the United States, in Maryland and in New York.

    A spokesman for Russia President Vladimir Putin told the Associated Press Moscow will consider retaliatory measures in response to the sanctions.

    Russian officials have denied the Obama administration's accusation that the Russian government was trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.

    U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia's goal was to help Donald Trump win — an assessment Trump has dismissed as ridiculous.

    Trump, on Thursday, called for the country to "move on."

    “It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things," he said in a statement. "Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."


    "These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior," the president continued.

    The president further authorized the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to release declassified technical information pertaining to Russian civilian and military intelligence cyber activity in the effort to "identify, detect, and disrupt Russia's global campaign of malicious cyber activities."

    "These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized," the statement reads. "In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance. To that end, my Administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections."

    House Speaker Paul Ryan said Obama's were "overdue," before criticizing the administration's "failed policy with Russia."

    "Russia does not share America’s interests," Ryan began. "In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them, sowing dangerous instability around the world. While today’s action by the administration is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia. And it serves as a prime example of this administration's ineffective foreign policy that has left America weaker in the eyes of the world."

    U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have been pushing for action against Russia in recent days, called the sanctions "a small price for Russia to pay," in a joint statement.

    “The retaliatory measures announced by the Obama Administration today are long overdue," the statement read. "But ultimately, they are a small price for Russia to pay for its brazen attack on American democracy. We intend to lead the effort in the new Congress to impose stronger sanctions on Russia.”

    This story will be updated.

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