As President Obama watches the last days of his two-terms run out, he is flailing wildly in all directions trying desperately to establish a legacy – veering between betraying long-time Middle East ally Israel to commuting the sentences of drug dealers and transferring detainees from “Gitmo,” designating parts of Utah and Nevada larger than the state of Delaware as a national monument and now attacking Russian diplomats and entities.

Obama signed an executive order sanctioning Russia for what he terms “interference” in the recent presidential election, a move that not only complicates the world scene President-elect Donald Trump will inherit when he takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017, but threatens to draw repercussions from Vladimir Putin at a time when relations between the two countries are particularly delicate.

Despite calls for proof, Obama continues to maintain that Putin assisted Trump in winning the White House over Hillary Clinton without pointing to any direct evidence of interference.

The Russian president had, earlier in the week, challenged Obama to either produce evidence of the hacking or desist in making the allegations.

The Executive Order – one of many Obama is using to act without input or consent from Congress, imposed sanctions on nine entities and individuals – including intelligence agencies and officers, as well as Russian companies.

In addition, Obama gave 35 Russian diplomats 72-hours to leave the United States and closed two longstanding compounds in New York and Maryland calling the retaliatory measures punishment for what he believes was Russian cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election and the Russian government’s harassment of U.S. officials in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin scoffed at the rebuke and not only refused to retaliate, but made a point of inviting the children of American diplomats stationed in Moscow to Christmas parties at the Kremlin.

“Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible 'kitchen' diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-U.S. relations based on the policies of the Trump administration,” Putin said in a released statement.

Although the White House claims it was aware of Russian attempts to influence the election in favor of Trump as early as September, his decision to act only at this point, three weeks before the new president moves into the Oval Office, suggests political motivation also drove the eleventh-hour move.

The allegations stem from Hillary Clinton’s assertions that Russians hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and her campaign chair, John Podesta, were responsible for her loss to Trump, and it appears Obama did not take action against the Russians when it was widely believed that Clinton would win the election.

“In October, my administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process. These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government,” Obama said stopping short of calling President Putin by name.

The out-going president also alluded vaguely to additional measures to punish Russia and has another three weeks to take more unpredictable actions to complicate President Trump’s early days in office.

 
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