Some senior Obama officials lament that they did not do enough to stop Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Former President Barack Obama’s handling of the response to Russia’s attempts have come under intense scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats. The only public warning of the Russian governments’ efforts came in an Oct. 7 memo from the Director of National Intelligence ascribing Democratic National Committee hacks to Russia.
Obama and many of his senior advisers have publicly defended their handling of the investigation.
“There has been this theory we didn’t do anything, which I take issue with,” former White House senior advisor Lisa Monaco told Politico Magazine in April.
Another senior administration official, however, admitted to WaPo that the response to Russian actions in the election “is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend.”
“I feel like we sort of choked,” he declared.
“Everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen,” a senior Department of State official lamented to The New York Times in December. Without any response from the White house, Russia continued its hacking campaign. Obama may have even held off on a more aggressive response to try and save one of his many failed ceasefire deals for the Syrian Civil War.
The strongest apparent response from the Obama administration came in a reported face to face meeting between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama reportedly told Putin the U.S. “knew what he was doing and [he] better stop or else.”
“We weren’t able to put all of those pieces together in real time,” former White House deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told WaPo. “In many ways that complete picture is still being filled in.” Rhodes declined to discuss any sensitive information,” he lamented.
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