The Washington Post published a new article Friday called “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault,” but the story was less about punishing and more about Obama ignoring the threat because he thought Hillary Clinton would win the election, they essentially made excuses.
The Russian intervention became a big deal only after Clinton lost, apparently.
“Even though Barack Obama knew about recurrent cyberattacks months before the actual election, he chose not to interfere because most of the administration assumed Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 election,” the Business Insider concluded regarding the Post article.
The lengthy Post story said the attempts to interfere in the U.S. election, allegedly on behalf of Donald Trump, were kept ultra-secret by the CIA and then Obama after he was informed.
U.S. intelligence, the Post said, had the “outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election.”
“Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July (2016), the FBI had opened an investigation of contact between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.”
However, the Obama administration essentially did nothing in response.
“Most DAMNING: Obama admin admits it ‘choked on Russia’ based on belief Hillary would win,” said a Twitchy headline, citing one of the Post’s anonymous sources who admitted, “I feel like we sort of choked.”
The Post said, “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.”
Twitchy commented: “So it sounds like Obama’s admin didn’t think it would be a big deal because Hillary would win so they weren’t overly proactive with the investigation.”
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
“And then when it was too late, it became Trump’s problem. Go figure,” said Twitchy. “Their own smug arrogance clearly bit them in the arse this time.”
Trump had focused like a laser just a day earlier on the real question that the Russian-election interference investigation should answer: “If Russia was working so hard on the 2016 election, it all took place during the Obama admin. Why didn’t they stop them?” he tweeted.
By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn’t they stop them?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
The investigation into Russian interference has been a favorite topic for Democrats and establishment media since Trump defeated Clinton.
A independent investigation has been launched by the Department of Justice, although special counsel Robert Mueller already is under pressure to recuse because of his close friendship with fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been investigating before his dismissal.
And Mueller has hired for his investigative unit a long list of Clinton donors and critics of Republicans.
The Post article, the Business Insider noted, cites a classified report outlining how hackers were damaging or discrediting Clinton.
“The reports tied the hackers to the Russian government and, even further, operated on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct instructions to help gain support for Donald Trump’s candidacy,” the Insider said.
The Obama administration response was to waffle.
The Post quoted an Obama administration source saying: “Our primary interest in August, September and October was to prevent them from doing the max they could do. We made the judgment that we has ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures.”
The Insider said the Post explains it clearly: “The assumption that Clinton would get elected played a part in the administration’s failure to act when they first learned about the hackers – even as evidence of someone going through Democratic Party computer networks mounted.”
The Post’s source continued: “It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend. I feel like we sort of choked.”
The Post described the “interference” as the “crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy,” but multiple Obama administration officials have stated there was no impact on the vote because of the interference.
And the report also lacked evidence of Trump campaign complicity.
The report said the “post-election period has been dominated by the overlapping investigations into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia before the election and whether the president sought to obstruct the FBI probe afterward.”
“Beset by allegations of hidden ties between his campaign and Russia, Trump has shown no inclination to revisit the matter and has denied any collusion or obstruction on his part.”
It also said the “still-forming Trump administration was becoming entangled by questions about contacts with Moscow.”
The London Guardian pointed out the obvious: “Trump’s alleged ties to Russia have received so much attention, including investigations by a special counsel and two congressional committees, that the adequacy of the Obama administration’s response has largely escaped scrutiny.”
Daniel Drezner, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Obama should have acted.
“To his credit he was always wary [to] first do no harm, which led him to not react immediately to crises and not necessarily want to take retaliatory action,” he said. “But this is a case where he clearly moved too slowly, and I think failed to appreciate the magnitude of what was going on.”
Michael McFaul, U.S. ambassador to Russia under Obama, was in accord.
“Russia violated our sovereignty, meddling in one of our most sacred acts as a democracy – electing our president,” he told the Post. “The Kremlin should have paid a much higher price for that attack. And U.S. policymakers now – both in the White House and Congress – should consider new actions to deter future Russian interventions.”
The Post ascribed the lack of action to Obama’s insecurity.
“Obama’s approach often seemed reducable to a single imperative: Don’t make things worse,” the report said. “As brazen as the Russian attacks on the election seemed, Obama and his top advisers feared that things could get far worse.”
The information, much of it brought to Obama by the partisan CIA director John Brennan, also didn’t convince congressional leaders or state officials approached by the Obama administration.
There were reasons for the rejection, the Post said.
“To some, Obama’s determination to avoid politicizing the Russia issue had the opposite effect: 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,” it said.
So little was done, the Post said, and then the election “outcome itself, however, was a shock.”
In a statement to the Post, a spokesman for Obama said: “This situation was taken extremely seriously, as is evident by President Obama raising this issue directly with President Putin; 17 intelligence agencies issuing an extraordinary public statement; our homeland security officials working relentlessly to bolster the cyber defenses of voting infrastructure around the country; the President directing a comprehensive intelligence review, and ultimately issuing a robust response including shutting down two Russian compounds, sanctioning nine Russian entities and individuals, and ejecting 35 Russian diplomats from the country.”
It was none other than Obama’s DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, who told the House Intelligence Committee this week that Russian hackers did not change any votes cast in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“I know of no evidence that through cyber intrusion, votes were altered or suppressed in some way,” Johnson said.
Committees in both Houses of Congress are investigating.
He did recommend Congress protect its elections systems better.
Collusion with Russian by an American politician actually happened years ago.
“During Reagan’s first term as president, liberal Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy made secret overtures to the Soviet Union to thwart Reagan’s re-election! Yes, this actually happened! When I reached out to Reagan biographer and Russia scholar Paul Kengor, he nailed the details – and the media’s stunning hypocrisy,” Kupelian wrote.
“‘Democrats are searching desperately, frantically, hysterically, for any tangible proof that Trump or one of his aides or associates was reaching out to the Russians to influence the 2016 election,’ Kengor, a political science professor at Grove City College, told me. ‘Well, the May 1983 KGB document between Victor Chebrikov (head of the KGB at the time) and Yuri Andropov (head of the USSR at the time) details an offer from Ted Kennedy to help the Russians prior to Ronald Reagan’s 1984 election campaign.’ Kennedy’s purpose: Prevent Reagan’s re-election.
“‘It’s an actual official Soviet document,’ Kengor told me, ‘one that was housed in the Central Committee archives until it was discovered after the Cold War in 1992. I first published the document in full in my 2006 book on Ronald Reagan, ‘The Crusader.’ (See the original Soviet document memorializing Sen. Edward Kennedy’s collusion with Russia, first in Russian and then translated into English.)” Kupelian wrote.
“The same left that demonizes America and capitalism with arguments identical to those learned at the feet of Russian communists, continues to accuse pro-American capitalist Donald Trump of ‘colluding with the Russians,’” he wrote.