Syria, Russian hacking and the Trump transition dominated Obama’s annual end of year press conference, before heading off for a two-week Christmas break in Hawaii.
Fielding questions on Russian hacking influencing the US elections he divulged that he had told Putin in China to ‘cut it out’ and warned of consequences. He added it was a bipartisan issue which should also concern president-elect Trump – and said cyber security should be reviewed.
‘I can assure the US public that there was not the kind of tampering with the voting process that was of concern,’ he answered on whether the US elections were free and fair.
When pushed on whether Putin had been behind it he ended a long-winded response about letting the intelligence services finish their report with ‘Not much happens in Russia without Putin.’
Obama spoke just after news broke that the FBI backed the CIA’s view that Russia intervened to help Trump win the US elections.
Reflecting on the conflict in Syria, he called for impartial observers to monitor the evacuation of civilians in east Aleppo. He also said a broader ceasefire was needed for a political not a military solution. He ended his statement saying, “the Assad regime cannot slaughter its way to victory.”
On providing some support to moderate opposition in Syria he said it was his administrations view that was the best thing to do.But he admitted that he could not claim that ‘we’ve been successful in Syria,’ adding ‘I have to go to bed with that every night.’
‘It was a fascinating election, I’m sure there will be a lot of books written about it,” he began in response to a question about the US presidential election 2016.
He continued by saying that he thought Hillary Clinton was not treated fairly in media coverage.
Dealing with Trump specifically he said he will help him with any ‘advice, counsel we can provide so he can make a decision on Syria.’