The Obama administration remains confident that Russia is hacking U.S. cyberspace to interfere with the November election, despite Russia's denial, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday.
Earnest told reporters that statements made earlier in the day by Russian President Vladimir Putin saying Russia had nothing to do with the hacks were "not surprising." But he added the denial "doesn't in any way undermine our confidence" that Russia is responsible. Earnest noted that the conclusion about Russia's involvement had been drawn by the U.S. intelligence community and the Department of Homeland Security.
"It's something that is a source of serious concern here in the administration," Earnest said. "The president and his national security team are considering what sort of steps should be part of a proportional response."
WATCH: James Clapper on Russian Interference in US Elections
This week, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Soviet Union (the former socialist state comprising Russia and a number of smaller republics) and now Russia had a history of interfering in elections. He said Moscow had interfered in other nations' elections as well as its own.
WATCH: Clapper on Likelihood of Russia Successfully Hacking US Election
Asked whether he thought Russia had succeeded in destabilizing confidence in U.S. democracy, Clapper said, "I don't believe so." He said the decentralized nature of the U.S. voting system, which places authority in the hands of state and local jurisdictions, makes it difficult for external meddling to occur.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also said this week that Washington had no doubts Russia was involved in the hacking of private email accounts of prominent U.S. Democrats.
Putin: No preference
Speaking to foreign policy experts earlier Thursday, Putin said the United States was using its allegations of Russian hacking to distract Americans from the country's problems with gun control and its national debt.
Putin also said despite allegations that he supported Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, he supported no candidate in the U.S. election and looked forward to working with any new U.S. president about any issue.
The Obama administration announced this month that it thought the Russian government was responsible for hacks into U.S. institutions in an attempt to influence the upcoming election.
Hacked emails associated with the Democratic National Committee and released earlier this year led to the resignation of DNC leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In addition, the private email accounts of several people associated with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have been hacked. Private correspondence from those accounts has been shared online, causing embarrassment to Clinton and her allies.