Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Photo: AP

On Friday, the White House formally accused the Russian government of hacking and releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic Party institutions.

“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and the Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement. These efforts “are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process,” according to the statement.

“Such activity is not new to Moscow,” the statement said. “The Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there.” From the New York Times:

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For weeks, aides to Mr. Obama have been debating a range of possible responses to the Russia action, from targeted economic sanctions to authorizing covert action against the computer servers in Russia and elsewhere that have been traced as the origin of the attacks.

The White House has not said whether Mr. Obama has reviewed those options, or decided on any.

The statement said that the recent “scanning and probing” of election systems “in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company,” but did not say the Russian government was responsible for those probes.

A senior White House official told the Associated Press that the United States would respond “at a time and place of our choosing,” but that the public might not be informed of the nature of the retaliation.