U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he thinks his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, did not react to Russian meddling in last year's election when he learned of it because he thought Trump's challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton, would win.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) concluded last August, three months ahead of the November 8 election, that Russian President Vladimir Putin had directly ordered a cyber campaign to discredit the U.S. presidential election, defeat or at least damage Clinton and help Trump win.
Obama, according to a Washington Post report last week, weighed for weeks on how to respond to the CIA finding. But ultimately Obama did not make any direct response until late December, weeks after Trump had won the election, when he expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in the eastern United States that the U.S. believed Moscow was using for intelligence gathering.
In a series of Twitter comments, Trump said, "The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win and did not want to 'rock the boat.' He didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good."
Trump claimed that "the real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling."
Later, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump "does believe [Obama] should have" done more to thwart the Russian meddling, but did not say what measures the former president should have undertaken.
In his tweets, Trump also defended his own actions against allegations his campaign aides possibly colluded with Russian officials to help him win and that he obstructed justice by firing James Comey, the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, while he was heading the agency's Russia investigation.
A special counsel, headed by another former FBI director, Robert Mueller, is now leading the criminal investigation of Russian interference in the election and numerous congressional probes are also underway.
Trump offered his own early conclusion of the official investigations that are likely to last for months.
"With 4 months looking at Russia under a magnifying glass, they have zero 'tapes' of T people colluding," Trump said. "There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!"
Trump, not wanting to diminish his victory, for months has been dismissive of the claims of Russian interference in the election, even though in January, before he took office, he acknowledged that Russia had hacked into computers at Democratic national headquarters in Washington and that Putin directed the cyberattack.
The file-sharing group WikiLeaks subsequently disclosed thousands of emails in the weeks leading up to the election that showed embarrassing behind-the-scenes efforts by Democratic operatives to help Clinton win the party's presidential election.
Clinton has said the steady drumbeat of information in the emails was one reason she lost the election after national surveys showed she was likely to win.