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Barack Obama Throws Russian Diplomats Out His Damn House!
When Barack Obama refused to say at his year-end press conference exactly what he was going to do about Russian attempts to use computer hacks to influence the 2016 elections, plenty of folks were disappointed he hadn't been more forceful, but Barack Obama is not a shoe-pounding kind of guy. He'd already said the USA would take action "at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be." Welp, looks like the public and explicit part of that has arrived: The administration announced Thursday afternoon that 35 Russian officials will be expelled from the U.S. In addition, two Russian-owned facilities believed to have been used in espionage will be shut down, and sanctions will be imposed on "two Russian intelligence agencies, three companies that are believed to have provided support for government cyber operations, and four Russian cyber officials." The partridge in the pear tree has requested asylum and will be held while its petition is reviewed.
In a statement, President Obama called the measures "a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior," adding that "All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions." He also said the United States will "continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing," repeating that some such actions may not be announced to the public. Obama closed by promising to deliver a report to Congress on Russian attempts to interfere in the election, "as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections."
Yep. "Previous elections." Get ready for Alex Jones to decide Obama has just confessed to getting Russian help in his own election, but maybe that's not so bad if it helped Trump.
The State Department said the actions were being taken not only in response to the hacking, but also in retaliation for Russian harassment of U.S. diplomats in Russia and eastern Europe over the past four years, which included break-ins at diplomats' homes and hotels, the killing of one official's pet dog, and a bizarre incident in which a Russian operative allegedly pooped on a U.S. diplomat's carpet, which really tied the whole room together man. And more:
“The harassment has involved arbitrary police stops, physical assault, and the broadcast on State TV of personal details about our personnel that put them at risk,” according to a statement from State Department spokesperson Mark C. Toner.
Konstantin Dolgov, a Russian foreign ministry official "in charge of democracy and human rights," a job which we'll assume leaves him with lots of free time, called the sanctions "fruitless and counterproductive," according to the Russian news agency Interfax. "Such one-sided steps have the goal of damaging relations and complicating their restoration in the future." Gee, and things had been going so swimmingly between Russia and the U.S. up to now. Russia had previously promised to retaliate against any additional sanctions, and had explained that the measures taken against American diplomats in Russia were already in response to alleged mistreatment of Russian diplomats in the USA. As we said in our earlier poop story, we’re willing to believe America plays mind games with Russian officials, but Jesus, we’d really like to believe we aren’t killing their pets. (We could be blind optimists on that count.)
Happily, President-elect Donald Trump has already said he wishes we'd just be nice to Russia, and even told reporters this week "we ought to get on with our lives.” You know, exactly like Republicans would have if Hillary Clinton had won and there were the least bit of evidence that a foreign government had tried to help. Trump also doesn't believe Russia was necessarily behind the hacks, because he is a complete idiot.
In a related but completely fictitious development we just made up right now, the Trump transition team announced invitations to Trump's inauguration would be printed using both the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets, because they're just prettier that way.