Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump on Sunday stepped up his criticism of Barack Obama’s response to concerns Russia was trying to disrupt the 2016 election, and some Democratic lawmakers agreed, with one calling the former leader’s handling of the threat a “serious mistake.”
In a flurry of weekend tweets and a prerecorded television appearance, Trump said his predecessor failed to act after the CIA informed him in August that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered an operation to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in the November election.
“Since the Obama Administration was told way before the 2016 Election that the Russians were meddling, why no action?” he asked in one tweet.
In another, alluding to a Washington Post article that laid out the Russia timeline, he tweeted: “Obama Administration official said they ‘choked’ when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?”
A top Trump aide, Kellyanne Conway, was more blunt still.
“It’s the Obama administration responsible for doing absolutely nothing from August to January with the knowledge that Russia was hacking into our election. They did nothing. They’re responsible,” she said Sunday on ABC.
Some Democrats saw abundant irony in Trump blaming Obama for indecisiveness against a Russian operation that Trump himself has long seemed to play down — including when he fired FBI chief James Comey for pursuing his investigation of “this Russia thing.”
But one influential Democratic lawmaker joined in the criticism of the previous president.
Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN that he understood that the Obama administration was worried about being seen as “trying to tip the scales for Hillary Clinton.”
But he went on: “The American people needed to know. I didn’t think it was enough to tell them after the election… I think the administration needed to call out Russia earlier, needed to act to deter and punish…