On Congress’ first day back in Washington, D.C., since Attorney General Bill Barr released his summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell swiftly used the four-page letter to criticize former President Obama.
McConnell argued that the report shows that Obama was unprepared to address Russian election meddling efforts, but the majority leader conveniently ignored his reported attempts to water down the Obama White House’s attempts to call out the Russia interference efforts ahead of the 2016 election.
In a floor speech on Monday afternoon, McConnell blasted Obama’s Russia policy.
“The attorney general reports that Russia carried out online disinformation campaign and computer hacking efforts designed to sow discord in our nation and interfere in American politics. It is deeply disturbing that the Obama administration was apparently insufficiently prepared to anticipate and counter these Russian threats,” McConnell said. “It was hardly a secret prior to November 2016 that Putin’s Russia was not and is not our friend. And yet for years, the previous administration ignored, excused and failed to confront Putin’s malign activities both at home and abroad.”
Yet, the Obama administration did seek bipartisan congressional support for a statement warning states to protect their election infrastructure against Russian hacking attempts. And McConnell reportedly said that any attempt by the administration to publicly address the Russians would be considered a partisan move. Congressional leaders ultimately signed off on a letter, but former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough said the letter was “dramatically watered down” thanks to pushback from McConnell.