U.S. President Donald Trump in recent days has been lashing out at his predecessor, President Barack Obama, for not having done enough to counter Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.
On Wednesday, Trump appeared to suggest in a tweet that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should investigate Obama concerning Russia’s meddling.
“Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!”
VOA looked at the some of the comments made by Trump and actions taken by the Obama administration regarding Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
What did the Obama administration do about Russian meddling?
In September 2016, top U.S. intelligence officials, including then-CIA Director John Brennan, asked their counterparts in Moscow to stop all activity aimed at influencing the election. Obama personally warned Russian President Vladimir Putin not to tamper in the polls.
In October, James Clapper, then-director of National Intelligence, and Jeh Johnson, former secretary of Homeland Security, issued an official statement blaming the Kremlin for directing “the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations.”
The administration also reached out to Congress in an effort to issue a bipartisan statement but was rebuffed by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
After the U.S. presidential election was over, Obama issued sanctions against nine Russian individuals and entities for election meddling. Obama also expelled 35 Russian government officials and ordered two waterfront compounds closed in the U.S. that Washington said the Russians were using for intelligence-gathering operations.
Trump says Obama didn’t act because he thought Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would win.
Former Obama administration officials have acknowledged that the White House was reluctant to take stronger actions against Russia because of the president’s concern that he would be seen as trying to tip the scales in favor of Clinton. Some have also said it was also because Obama wanted Russia to play a greater role in the negotiations with Iran about its nuclear program. He was also trying to get Moscow to unite with the West in its efforts to end the Syrian civil war.
Trump says he has “been much tougher on Russia than Obama.”
Trump has yet to accept the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia deliberately tried to influence American voters in favor of his candidacy. He also has yet to levy any sanctions on Russia for the election meddling, even though Congress last year passed legislation requiring him to do so by Jan. 29, 2018.
Trump has often spoken glowingly about Putin, predicting that they would have a great relationship. In fact, when Moscow insisted that the U.S. reduce its diplomatic staff in retaliation for some Treasury Department sanctions, Trump thanked Putin, saying “we are trying to cut down on payroll.”