US President Barack Obama (R) and President-elect Donald Trump (L) meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 10 November 2016.

US President Barack Obama in his final weeks in office managed in one fell swoop to strike at both Russia and president-elect Donald Trump, as well as create a rift within the Republican Party.

He expelled 35 Russian diplomats last week on allegations that they were "intelligence operatives" amid accusations that the Russian government directed cyberattacks intended to influence the US presidential election in November.

Trump, who has publicly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, now faces a significant roadblock to his plans to rebuild ties with Russia after he takes office January 20. His stance has put him at odds with several senior members of his own party.

The finger-pointing towards Russia in the cyberattacks has roiled Washington and prompted calls for a congressional investigation, which has only served to worsen tensions between the president-elect and US spy agencies.

Trump has agreed to be briefed by intelligence officials on the matter, a meeting he said would take place this week as he reiterated his scepticism.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted: "The 'intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!"

The president-elect has repeatedly thrown cold water on attempts to blame Moscow for the hacks. "I think it's ridiculous," Trump said in early December.

More recently Trump said he just wanted the intelligence agencies to be sure "because it's a pretty serious charge," adding that their assessments on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before president George W Bush launched an invasion of the country in 2003 were wrong.

He also said hacking is a very hard thing to prove, "so it could be somebody else."

Russian political analyst Vladimir Frolov told dpa that Trump has shown his intention to give the Russians a pass on their alleged cyberattacks "because he does not want the legitimacy of his win to be put in doubt by the conclusions that a Russian operation was intended to help him win."

It could even be grounds for impeachment if the Federal Bureau of Investigation comes up with credible evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, Frolov said.

An assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency that was leaked to the press in mid-December alleged that Russia carried out the cyberattacks to help elect Trump.

It reached that conclusion, according to unidentified sources quoted in the Washington Post, after seeing that efforts were disproportionately aimed the Democratic Party and its nominee Hillary Clinton.

Adding weight to the allegations, FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr agree with the CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the election in part to help Trump win, according to an unnamed source quoted by the Post.

The spotlight moves to Congress this week with a hearing into the matter by the Senate Armed Services Committee, whose chairman, John McCain, has called for creating a select committee to investigate the Russian hacking allegations.

McCain and fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham have already said they would push for stronger sanctions on Russia in the new Congress.

With the intelligence community apparently in agreement about Russia's involvement, he's not about to look the other way if Russia is waging some kind of clandestine cyberwar against the United States.

McCain has asked the director of national intelligence and the head of the National Security Agency to testify before his committee on Thursday.

Russian analyst Mikhail Troitskiy told dpa that Republicans in Congress formed their opinion about Russia a while ago, and the Obama administration has never forced their hand.

It could turn out that a president of their own party is the one who does.

Related stories

Latest news

Italy police grants asylum seeker humanitarian residency after attack

An Italian police commissioner on Thursday granted a humanitarian residency permit to a Nigerian asylum seeker after he barely survived a racially motivated attack.

Global probe leads to Israeli's arrest after Jewish centre threats

Israeli police were questioning a Jewish-Israeli teenager on Thursday after he was arrested during an international investigation into a wave of bomb threats against US Jewish centres.

Erdogan accuses Bulgaria of pressuring ethnic Turks ahead of vote

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused Bulgaria of putting pressure on its ethnic Turks ahead of this weekend's Bulgarian elections, as relations between Ankara and European nations show no signs of improving.

Police name British-born Khalid Masood as London attacker

British-born Khalid Masood, 52, is the man authorities believe carried out terrorist attack in London, the Metropolitan Police said Thursday.

Eurovision to let Russian singer perform remotely due to Ukraine ban

A Russian singer banned by Ukraine from entering the country will be able to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest through a live video link, the contest's executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, said Thursday.

US donates 24 Humvee vehicles to Bosnia army

The US government has donated 24 Humvee multipurpose vehicles to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Army, hit by a chronic shortage of funding and equipment, to reinforce its technical capacity.

French citizen kidnapped in eastern Chad

A French citizen has been kidnapped in the central African nation of Chad, the Foreign Ministry in Paris and the Chadian government said Thursday.

Belgium police arrest driver speeding through Antwerp shopping area

Belgian police arrested a driver who was speeding through a busy shopping street in Antwerp, causing pedestrians to run to safety, police said Thursday.

More than 100 civilians killed in Mosul blast

More than 100 civilians were killed in a powerful explosion in a residential area of Mosul, where Iraq is battling to drive out Islamic State from its last key stronghold in the country, an army officer and an activist said Thursday.

France's Marine Le Pen to visit Russian parliament

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is expected to visit Moscow on Friday to meet with Russian lawmakers, a high-ranking member of the Russian parliament announced.

EU calls on Turkish ambassador to explain Erdogan comments

The European Union has called on Turkey's ambassador to the EU to explain apparently threatening remarks made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan towards the bloc, a spokeswoman for the EU's foreign affairs service said Thursday.

Host of EU summit Rome tightens security after London attack

Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti met with intelligence and anti-terrorism officials Thursday to assess threat levels after the London attack and ahead of an EU summit in Rome.

Austrian minister balks at refugee relocations from Italy

Austria should not admit any asylum seekers from Italy under the EU relocation programme, Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil said Thursday, pointing to the large number that his country has already taken in.

Islamic State claims London attacker as its 'soldier'

The Islamic State extremist group claims that the attacker who rammed pedestrians and stabbed a police officer in central London was one of its "soldiers."

Three reports filed against finance minister over Agrokor case

The Croatian Parliament's Conflict of Interest Commission has received three reports against Finance Minister Zdravko Maric which focus on the fact that before his latest post he was an employee of the Agrokor food and retail concern, Commission chair Dalija Oreskovic confirmed to reporters on Thursday.

Italy's taxi drivers strike over proposed Uber regulations

Taxi drivers went on strike across Italy on Thursday over a government proposal to regulate new market players, such as Uber.

It took 60 days to unravel what Todoric built in 41 yrs, says Bloomberg

It took Ivica Todoric 41 years to build an empire that now accounts for almost a sixth of Croatia’s economy, but two months of market panic were all that were needed for his main creditor, a Russian bank run by a longtime ally of Vladimir Putin, to decide that it’s time for him to go, Bloomberg wrote on Thursday.

Four terrorist cell suspects arrested in Italy

Italian police have arrested four suspected members of a terrorist cell that spread propaganda on social media, police tweeted Thursday.