US President Barack Obama is wary of Russia's interference in the US presidential election, suggesting Russia might try to influence who gets elected on 8 November. His comments follow a leak of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails attributed by experts to Kremlin-backed hackers.
Nearly 20,000 DNC emails were leaked in June, which showed that the committee favoured Hillary Clinton over senator Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee for the presidential race. An investigation by the security firm CrowdStrike has reportedly linked the leak of the documents to Russia-backed hacker Guccifer 2.0, who has denied it.
"I know that experts have attributed this to the Russians," Obama told NBC News in an interview on Tuesday (26 July). "What we do know is that the Russians hack our systems, not just government systems but private systems."
When the broadcaster asked if the president thought Moscow was trying to sway the US election, Obama replied: "Anything is possible." But to a question if Russian President Vladimir Putin would prefer Donald Trump in the White House, he said: "What the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that, I can't say directly. What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin. I think that Trump has gotten pretty favourable coverage back in Russia," Reuters quoted him as saying.
The timing of the leak of the DNC emails is thought to have caused damage to the party and its nominee. Clinton was officially nominated as the Democratic candidate on Tuesday (26 July) at the party's convention in Philadelphia. She will now face Republican nominee Trump in the election.
It has been widely reported that Trump has not been shy of praising Putin and has called him a "strong leader". The former TV personality and business magnate last week said that with him as president in the White House, the US might no longer automatically come to the aid of a Nato ally if they were attacked. He hinted at the Baltic states that were once part of the Russia-led Soviet Union.