A new report reveals that officials under former President Obama feel that the administration “choked” on handling Russia because of overconfidence in a Hillary Clinton election victory.
As the Obama White House debated how to act in response to intelligence that allegedly revealed Russia was interfering with the U.S. election in 2016, the administration reportedly was confident a Clinton win would end the issue, according to the Washington Post.
WaPo — Senior Obama administration official on how they handled Russia hack: “I feel like we sort of choked.” https://t.co/iiuMo2TgCs
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 23, 2017
“Our primary interest in August, September and October was to prevent them from doing the max they could do,” a senior administration official told the Post “We made the judgment that we had ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures.”
The Obama administration’s “assumption that Clinton would win contributed to the lack of urgency,” the Post reported.
Most damning: lack of urgency based on the belief that Clinton would win. https://t.co/SJkwsNgeWu
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) June 23, 2017
Government officials who spoke to NBC after the election had revealed that Obama did not want to appear to be meddling in the election himself and was sure Clinton’s win would make Russia’s interference a moot point.
Of course, then President-elect Trump had denied any accusations of collusion between his campaign staff and Moscow. He had even challenged the Obama White House to explain why it waited until after the election results were in to sound the Russia alarm.
If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
Anti-Trump critics will never admit that he was right but the lengthy Washington Post report appears to clearly confirm the sentiment, as well as the previous NBC report.
A failure of leadership on the most epic of levels. https://t.co/piF7A2XzcJ
— Rebecca Katz (@RebeccaKKatz) June 23, 2017
According to the Washington Post:
But in the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package combining measures that had been drawn up to punish Russia for other issues — expulsions of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds — with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic.
Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.
“The White House was mortified and shocked,” a former administration official said, recalling the reaction to Clinton’s loss. “From national security people there was a sense of immediate introspection, of, ‘Wow, did we mishandle this.’ ”
A former senior Obama administration official who had been part of the deliberations on Russia admitted the painfully obvious.
“It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” he told the Post. “I feel like we sort of choked.”
The fact that the Obama admin barely acted because they were sure Hillary would win and didn’t want to hamstring her is a HUGE deal. https://t.co/7oQsyZl3oe
— neontaster (@neontaster) June 23, 2017
Apparently, Obama did not press for a more proactive response to Russia’s extensive assault on American democracy because of confidence in Clinton. Once the election took the administration by surprise, the problem was left for incoming President Trump to deal with.
“To some, Obama’s determination to avoid politicizing the Russia issue had the opposite effect,” the Post reported. “It meant that he allowed politics to shape his administration’s response to what some believed should have been treated purely as a national security threat.”
That statement sums up the entire obama presidency
— park (@rpkbbi) June 23, 2017
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