A legal review of the cyberweapons, developed by the NSA, determined their use would be a "proportional" response (as required under global law) to a variety of scenarios involving Russian cyberattacks targeting, for instance, the next presidential election or the USA power grid.
Evidence of Russian meddling mounted as the election neared.
"It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend", a former top Obama official in on the Russian Federation discussions said, lamenting the actions ultimately taken against the Kremlin. Trump himself told a press conference: "They probably have her [Hillary Clinton's] 33,000 e-mails". "Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian president Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the USA presidential race", the paper says.
The Obama administration's "assumption that Clinton would win contributed to the lack of urgency", the Post reported.
"I feel like we sort of choked", he declared.
"It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend", a former senior Obama administration official told the newspaper.
The Kremlin has voiced regret about the new US sanctions against Russian Federation and warned of possible retaliation. And on July 22, almost 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.
They included "cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could "crater" the Russian economy", the Post reported.
Obama eventually approved sanctions against Russian Federation, but they were "so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic", according to the Post. While Obama approved the operation, it would be up to Trump to ever use it.
Johnson defended the White House's response, arguing the administration repeatedly banged the drum on election cybersecurity throughout the summer and fall but was appropriately leery of undermining trust in the integrity of the election.
Michael McFaul, who served as the Obama administration's ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, said that Obama's decision to expel Russian diplomats from the United States and to level harsher sanctions against the country in December 2016 was far too small of an action given the scope of what the Russians had done. "Importantly, we did that".
The White House, the CIA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment for the report.
"It's also important to establish what happened and what they attempted to do, so as to ensure that we take the steps necessary to stop it from happening again".
"Our primary interest in August, September and October was to prevent them from doing the max they could do", a senior administration official told the Post.