Sen. Bernie Sanders offhandedly criticized former President Barack Obama Sunday for not doing enough to warn voters about the Russian government’s attempt to meddle during the election.
Obama probably didn’t do enough to raise the red flag after he found out Russia involved itself in the U.S. election, Sanders said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” before pivoting to blasting President Donald Trump for downplaying Russia’s role.
“Obama was in a very difficult position and didn’t want to make it appear he was favoring Hillary Clinton,” the Vermont Independent said. “Maybe he should have done more.” An indictment announced Friday showed that Russian nationals helped both Sanders and Trump during their respective presidential candidacies.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment for 13 Russian nationals affiliated with three Russian companies suspected of interfering in the 2016 election. The goal was to create chaos inside the U.S. political process.
The indicted Russians operated both pro- and anti-Trump social media accounts, and accounts were also used to provide support for Sanders, who at the time was considered a formidable opponent to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
Russians named in the indictment also set up a “Blacktivists” Instagram account that promoted the message: “Choose Peace and Vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.” They also used the Instagram account “Woke Blacks” to encourage people not to vote.
Sanders’ comments on Sunday came after Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that Obama should have called out Russian meddling much sooner. Democrats have generally accepted Obama’s justification for not calling out Russia during the election.
New protections must be enacted to prevent similar meddling in the future, Sanders noted, referring specifically to the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. “We have got to do everything we can to make sure that they do not undermine American democracy,” he said.
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