In the freewheeling final press conference of the year, Obama lambasted Syria for trying to “slaughter its way to legitimacy,” Russia for intervening in the U.S. election, and even some Trump supporters for praising Vladimir Putin. He said that some members of the GOP would make “Ronald Reagan roll over in his grave” for their admiration of Putin.
Obama just stopped short of saying Vladimir Putin himself orchestrated the hacking of U.S. political sites during the election, but he did say that highest level of the Kremlin was involved. He also urged Donald Trump to back a bipartisan investigation into the issue.
He said that he would leave to the public to decide whether high-level Russian officials were acting without Putin’s knowledge, also adding that “not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin.” He said that he had warned Vladimir Putin of grave consequences if the Russian President did not “cut it out.”
He also appeared to suggest that the U.S. could go on the offensive with its own cyber muscle, saying that “whatever they do to us, we can potentially do to them.”
Democrat Hillary Clinton was more direct in her statement on Thursday night when she said:-
Vladimir Putin himself directed the covert cyber-attacks against our electoral system, against our democracy, apparently because he has a personal beef against me.
Although Obama did not publicly repeat Hillary’s version, he did chide the media for what he called an “obsession” with the flood of hacked Democratic emails that were disclosed during the election’s final stretch.
Obama rejected the view that the dispute over the origin of the hacking issue was in any way affecting the smooth transfer of power to Trump. Despite their repeated criticism of each other, they have spoken multiple times, and Obama has said of Trump:-
He has listened. I can’t say he will end up implementing. But the conversations themselves have been cordial.”
Obama blasted Russia separately again on the Syrian issue. He said that Russia was standing in the way of international efforts to stop the civil war in Syria, where the government forces have beaten the rebels in their stronghold of Aleppo.
Obama also strongly condemned the actions of the Syrian regime under Bashar al-Assad, saying that the government could not “slaughter its way to legitimacy” and also called for an international observer force in Aleppo. “The world shall not be fooled, and the world will not forget,” Obama said.
Obama started the press conference by touting his achievements from the time he took office, backing it by presenting some facts like the unemployment rate has decreased, and the number of insured people under his health care overhaul has gone up. Obama claimed that he was leaving the country more “prosperous and stronger than it was when we started.”
Following the press conference on Friday, Obama departed with his family to the annual vacation in Hawaii.