By Eric Lieberman, DCNF
President Barack Obama said it was nearly impossible to rig an election during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi only around a couple months ago.
He is now punishing Russia for allegedly doing what he previously said was unfeasible.
“I’ve never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place,” Obama said, in response to comments then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made. “No serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections.”
President-elect Donald Trump said during a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, in August that he was afraid the election was going to be rigged, citing, amongst other things, the fact that the Democratic National Committee colluded to make former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the nominee instead of Senator Bernie Sanders.
Obama’s comments came only around two weeks after he officially blamed Russia for leaking sensitive emails. Obama expelled 35 Russian officials Thursday as part of larger set of sanctions on the country.
“Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election,” Obama wrote in an official statement. “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.”
So after originally saying the election could not be rigged, the president seems to be inferring that Russia did in fact influence the election, if not directly rigging it.
Obama reportedly ignored allegations of Russian hacking during the election because he thought aggressively addressing it would make him look partisan, and would decrease Clinton’s chances of winning.
During a 2012 election debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Obama essentially scoffed at the idea that Russia posed a threat to the United States.
“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years,” Obama said in a mocking tone.
For what it’s worth, FBI Director James Comey agreed with Obama at the time saying that Russia probably can’t hack the U.S. election system because it’s so “clunky.”
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