The White House's failure to retaliate against a 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures may have encouraged Russian hackers to interfere in this year's presidential election, a senior Democratic U.S.lawmaker said.
"Russia may have concluded that they could hack American institutions and there'd be no price to pay," Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters in Washington on December 6.
Schiff said Washington should team up with European allies to hit the Russian economy again with sanctions after Moscow allegedly staged high-profile attacks on Democratic organizations that damaged the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and may have helped Republican Donald Trump win the presidency and keep Republican control of Congress.
Schiff said the United States needs to do more to stop such hacking. "Unless we establish some kind of deterrent, this is going to be unending," he said.
The Obama administration publicly blamed North Korea for breaches that crippled Sony in 2014, but did not publicly retaliate. In 2016, the hacking benefited Trump, but Russian hackers could eventually turn on the president-elect as well, Schiff said.
"Russia may have succeeded in weakening Americans' trust" in democratic institutions, Schiff and other House Democrats said in a letter to President Barack Obama this week.