Trump slams Obama for inaction over Russian meddling

Donald Trump has long disputed that the Russians had interfered with the election, calling it "all a big Dem HOAX" just this past week.
Donald Trump has long disputed that the Russians had interfered with the election, calling it "all a big Dem HOAX" just this past week.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump has called out Obama administration officials for not taking stronger actions against Russian meddling in last year's United States election, contradicting his past statements and suggesting without proof that they were trying to help Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

His tweets came after The Post revealed last Friday that the Obama White House had received reports as early as August last year regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in the cyber campaign with instructions to defeat or damage Mrs Clinton and help to elect Mr Trump, according to "sourcing deep inside the Russian government".

The Obama administration would not publicly say Russia was attempting to interfere with the election until Oct 7, and the news of Mr Putin's attempts to aid Mr Trump would not surface until after the election.

Mr Trump has long disputed that the Russians had interfered with the election, calling it "all a big Dem HOAX" just this past week.

But last Friday evening, after the publication of The Post's article, President Trump demanded to know why Mr Obama had not done more to stop the meddling.

His first tweet read: "Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?"

He followed up with more tweets the next day, trying to put the focus on Mr Obama's inaction.

The Post's article explains in detail why Mr Obama, who reportedly was gravely concerned by an August Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report about the hacking, managed to approve only "largely symbolic" sanctions before he left office.

Those reasons included partisan squabbling among members of Congress, initial scepticism by other intelligence agencies about the CIA's findings and an assumption that Mrs Clinton would win the election, and follow up on the matter.

"We made the judgment that we had ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures," a senior administration official was quoted as saying in the article.

Mr Trump, however, raised his own theories, tweeting: "Obama Administration official said they 'choked' when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn't want to hurt Hillary?"

He provided no explanation or evidence for why this would have helped Mrs Clinton.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2017, with the headline 'Trump slams Obama for inaction over Russian meddling'. Print Edition | Subscribe