President Barack Obama is forcing his successor, Donald Trump, into a difficult choice: reverse the sanctions he just imposed on Russia for hacking the U.S. election or put at risk his campaign vow to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hours after Obama imposed penalties on Russian agencies, individuals and companies and ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian operatives Thursday, Trump issued a terse statement far milder than his previous assertions that Democratic emails may well have been stolen and leaked by “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

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