WASHINGTON — President Trump blamed his predecessor for turning a blind eye to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election Monday.
“Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?” Trump said on Twitter.
The attack on Obama was the latest in a series of presidential tweets reacting to a grand jury indictment handed up Friday against 16 Russian nationals entities accused of using social media to meddle in the presidential election.
It’s been a common complaint from Trump, who has alternately downplayed the extent of Russian interference and blamed his predecessor for failing to stop it.
In a series of tweets last June, Trump said Obama ignored Russian cyberattacks because he thought Democrat Hillary Clinton would win the election.
Last August, he tweeted that Obama knew about the Russian interference three years ago “but he didn’t want to anger Russia!”
On Sunday, Trump received validation of that view from an unexpected source; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
“I said all along that I thought the Obama administration should have done more,” Schiff told CNN on Sunday. “They were very wary of appearing to be putting their hand on the scale in the election.”
But Schiff also said, “none of that is an excuse for this president to sit on his hands.” He said Trump should implement the sanctions against Russia that Congress authorized last year.
Obama did take action against Russia, instituting sanctions and expelling 35 diplomats. But that happened in December 2016 — weeks after the election. It wasn’t until the month before the election that the Obama administration publicly acknowledged the Russian efforts.
Now, those efforts are part of a wide-ranging investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller which has resulted in two guilty pleas — including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — and more than a dozen indictments. Among other issues, Mueller’s team is looking at whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian agents, and whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.
Trump’s tweet followed his 4⅓ hour visit to the Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach, Fla. during a holiday weekend in which he also took aim at CNN, the FBI and TV personality Oprah Winfrey.
Credit: USA Today