There is a growing consensus among top U.S. officials that Russia had an influence in the recent U.S. presidential election and that Russian President Vladimir Putin was part of the concerted effort to undermine the democratic merit of the contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In a speech to supporters on Thursday night, Clinton said that Putin deliberately tried to thwart her campaign due to their ongoing "personal beef." 

“Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” said the losing Democratic candidate. Clinton refers to her own attempts, while she was serving as Secretary of State, to expose the undemocratic nature of the 2011 parliamentary elections in Russia. 

She also effectively admitted that she could have won the election were it not for the efforts of Putin as well as FBI Director James Comey. Shortly before the election, Comey wrote a letter to Congress stating that the FBI would reopen its investigation of Clinton's email server due to newly found emails -- discovered as part of a separate investigation on the sexting scandal of former New York congressman Anthony Weiner -- that could potentially contain confidential information pertinent to the FBI. 

Two days before the election, Comey announced that the new emails had not affected the FBI's decision (and temporary closing of the investigation) -- made in July -- that no criminal charges would be brought against Clinton as a result of her private emails. 

“Swing-state voters made their decisions in the final days breaking against me because of the FBI letter from Director Comey,” said Clinton on Thursday night. 

It is suspected that Russian hackers are largely responsible for the leaking of Clinton's private emails, and U.S. officials now seem convinced that the hackers, to some degree, were acting upon the orders of Putin. 

Comey is now on board with the consensus, shared by the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA, that Russia played an active role in exposing Clinton's emails in order to ensure her defeat at the hands of Trump, reports The Washington Post

President Obama, too, has acknowledged Putin's attempted sabotaging of the U.S. election. Though he has not spoken at length on the degree of success Putin was able to have (he obviously attained his desired outcome of a Trump victory), Obama has promised some sort of retaliation. 

"I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we will at a time and place of our own choosing" the President told National Public Radio in a recent interview that is set to air Friday on "Morning Edition." 

"Some of it may be explicit and publicized," said Obama of the retaliation efforts, adding that "some of it may not be," alluding to the potential confidentiality of the U.S. response. 

He has also said that Putin is aware of the likelihood of retribution in response to his meddling in the U.S. election. "Mr. Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it," said Obama.