WASHINGTON — President Trump appeared to acknowledge that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election, but only so he could blame former president Barack Obama.
“Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?” Trump tweeted Friday night.
Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017
This is a rare instance where the president has acknowledged what the intelligence community and bipartisan members of Congress already have, which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the presidential election.
Until Friday, Trump has remained vague about whether he believes the Russians meddled. Earlier this week the president said on Twitter that conversations regarding the alleged meddling were “all a big Dem HOAX!” and “excuse for losing the election!”
“I have not sat down and talked with him about that specific thing,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said to reporters earlier this week after being asked if Trump believed the Russian government interfered. Conversations about Russian interference has been going on for nearly a year and is now being investigated by multiple congressional committees and a special counsel.
But following a Washington Post report Friday Trump seemed to have changed his approach.
The Washington Post published a lengthy investigation of how the Obama administration had handled discoveries that the Russians were attempting to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. The report shows the handwringing that officials went through on how to respond and how and when to alert the public.
While Obama did authorize a cyber operation that would make it possible to retaliate against Russia, it was still in the early stages when Trump took office.
In an interview with Fox News, which is set to air Sunday, Trump said: “I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it.”
“The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even — before the election,” he said. The question is, if he had the information, why didn't he do something about it? He should have done something about it.”