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Obama Administration Preparing Retaliatory Steps Against Russia Over Hacks

The announced steps will likely include economic sanctions. The unannounced steps will be covert and involve cyber operations.
Image: Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room
President Barack Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 16, 2016.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

The Obama administration is preparing retaliatory actions against Russia for its alleged involvement in cyber-attacks on Democratic Party institutions in order to interfere in the presidential election, two senior U.S. officials confirmed to NBC News.

As early as Thursday or Friday, a 2015 Obama executive order will be updated to announce the retaliatory steps, the officials said.

The announced steps will likely include economic sanctions coordinated by the Treasury Department. Unannounced steps could be covert and may involve cyber options — although the U.S. has been very careful to try to avoid engaging Russia in an all-out cyber war, the officials said.

Related: Obama Says U.S. Will Send 'Clear Message' to Russia on Hacks

NBC News has previously reported that U.S. intelligence officials believe “with a high level of confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the alleged covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.

Related: U.S. Officials Say Putin Personally Involved in Election Interference Campaign

In October the Obama administration publicly accused the Russian government of directing the cyber-attacks on U.S. political organizations.

Obama earlier this month blamed "the highest level" of the Russian government for the hacks, noting that "not much happens in Russia" without Putin giving the green light.

Russia has denied involvement.