US President Barack Obama is considering a "proportional" response to Russia's efforts of interfering with the upcoming 8 November election through cyberattacks, the White House announced Tuesday (11 October).
"The president has talked before about the significant capabilities that the US government has to both defend our systems in the United States but also carry out offensive operations in other countries," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters travelling with President Obama on Air Force One to Greensboro.
"There are a range of responses that are available to the president, and he will consider a response that is proportional."
Earnest added that any action taken may not be announced in advance or disclosed to the public if it is carried out.
Last week, Washington accused the Russian government of hacking into the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee and a range of political organisations, in an attempt to "interfere" in the upcoming November election.
"We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities," the Office of Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement. "The recent disclosures of alleged hacked emails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts."
While Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman "rubbishised" the hacking accusations, the country's foreign ministry deemed the claims as an attempt by the US to spark "unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria".
The Obama administration's announcement follows the publication of thousands of emails allegedly hacked from the personal account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta by whistleblowing organisation WikiLeaks.
The recent disclosures offered an unprecedented glimpse into the inner workings of the Clinton camp. These included apparent excerpts of Clinton's speeches to private banks, a dossier of "hits" to use against Bernie Sanders, an email that shows she was advised Saudi Arabia and Qatar were secretly funding Islamic State (Isis) among other revelations.
Clinton's campaign has not yet verified or denied the authenticity of the leaked emails.
However, a spokesman for Clinton's campaign, Brian Fallon, slammed the site in a series of tweets, accusing it of being a "propaganda arm of the Russian government" seeking to elect Republican nominee Donald Trump.
During the second presidential debate on Sunday, Clinton accused Putin and Moscow of attempting to influence the upcoming election through cyberattacks.
"Our intelligence community just came out and said in the last few days that the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian government, are directing the attacks, the hacking on American accounts to influence our election," Clinton said. "We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election.
"And believe me, they're not doing it to get me elected. They're doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump."
Trump previously stated that the identity of the cybercriminals behind the DNC hack was still unknown and could be Russia, China or "somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds".
At the second debate, Trump reiterated that Russia may not be behind the cyberattacks suggesting that "maybe there is no hacking".
"Anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians are — she doesn't know if it's the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia," Trump said.
"And the reason they blame Russia because they think they're trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know nothing about Russia. I know — I know about Russia, but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don't deal there. I have no businesses there. I have no loans from Russia."