Trump Keeps Up Criticism Of Obama Over Russian Meddling, Wants Apology

Evan Vucci/AP

President Donald Trump asked former President Obama for an apology on Monday, accusing him of doing “nothing” in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election and asserting there was no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. Trump also said Obama “colluded or obstructed,” though it was unclear what specifically the charge was in reference to.

Trump echoed the criticisms he made Friday and Saturday, which appeared to be in response to a lengthy Washington Post report on Friday detailing the decision-making process behind Obama’s response to Russian meddling.

Trump’s reference to Obama choking seemed to be in reference to one unnamed Post source, “a former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russia,” who said: “It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend … I feel like we sort of choked.”

The Trump administration has appeared wary of antagonizing Russia. Trump himself frequently called the Russian election interference story a hoax, and raised the possibility that other state or non-state actors could have stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, despite the assertions of the intelligence community.

The intelligence community formally accused Russia of interfering in the election in October. In December, the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and their families and seized two Russian diplomatic compounds, in addition to instituting new sanctions. In January, a declassified intelligence community report asserted that “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

However, according to the Post’s reporting, the administration was wary of appearing as though they were interfering in the election in order to favor Hillary Clinton; Trump at that point spoke frequently of a “rigged” election.

Months before the first formal accusation against Russia, Trump asked the country during a press conference: “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and others were resistant to announcing Russian intentions publicly, the Post reported.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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