U.S. President Donald Trump waged a new attack Tuesday on the notion that Russian interference tipped the 2016 presidential election in his favor, quoting former President Barack Obama as saying shortly before the vote that there was no evidence anyone could rig the outcome.
The U.S. leader contended in a Twitter comment that Obama failed to act against Russian meddling because he thought Trump's opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, was going to win and "he didn't want to 'rock the boat.'" He added, "When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems."
In another tweet, Trump said, "I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts. Total Fake News!" He praised his favorite television show, "Fox and Friends," for laying out a timeline he said showed "all of the failures of the Obama Administration" in combating Russian military involvement in Syria and its takeover of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
In a string of tweets over several hours, Trump blamed Obama for mishandling Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?" Trump asked.
Trump had often said during the campaign that the election was "rigged" against him. That prompted Obama, shortly before the election, to say, as Trump noted in one of his tweets, “There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, there’s no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time, and so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes.”
Trump did not mention in his election recollections that Obama ahead of the election wanted to issue a bipartisan statement about Russian interference, but was rebuffed by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
After the election, in December 2016, 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 that the U.S. said the Russians were using for intelligence-gathering operations.
The Kremlin on Monday denied interference in the U.S. election, days after U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with conducting an illegal "information warfare" campaign to disrupt the election to help Trump win.
Mueller's indictment alleged that the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based social media company with Kremlin ties, 12 of its employees, and its financial backer orchestrated the effort, writing Internet postings pretending to be Americans commenting on the election and divisive U.S. issues, all in an effort to undermine U.S. democracy, hurt Clinton's candidacy and help Trump.
Trump has long insisted his campaign did not collude with Russia, even as the U.S. intelligence community, and now Mueller, have concluded that Russia conducted a wide campaign to meddle in the election to benefit Trump.
The indictment marks the first time Mueller’s office has brought charges against Russians and Russian entities.
Mueller’s sprawling investigation has led to the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates on money laundering charges in connection with their lobbying efforts in Ukraine that predates Trump's 2016 campaign.
Former National Security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russian officials and are cooperating with Mueller's probe.
In addition to investigating Russian meddling in the election, Mueller is probing whether Trump has in several ways obstructed justice to undermine the investigation, including his firing of former FBI director James Comey, who was leading the agency's Russia probe at the time Trump ousted him. Mueller, over Trump's objections, was then appointed to take over the Russia probe.