CNN writer Scott Jennings is shifting the blame for the dreaded Russian Meddling™ from Trump and onto Obama and Susan Rice. He says that Obama did not take action against the Russians because he wanted them to join the deal with Iran. What?
We couldn’t make a lousy deal without Russia? Susan Rice even told subordinates to back off and stand down over the meddling in order not to annoy the Russians. I have a funny feeling that Jennings is not far from gone from CNN. It’s just a matter of whether they will dump him now or wait for his contract to run out.
Jennings actually points out that the *alleged* interference took place under their watch, and says that Rice had opportunities to investigate and intervene, but chose not to, in part because Obama was the one actually making deals with Putin, and blaming Trump is just a smoke screen.
The partisan warfare over the Mueller report will rage, but one thing cannot be denied: Former President Barack Obama looks just plain bad. On his watch, the Russians meddled in our democracy while his administration did nothing about it.
The Mueller report flatly states that Russia began interfering in American democracy in 2014. Over the next couple of years, the effort blossomed into a robust attempt to interfere in our 2016 presidential election. The Obama administration knew this was going on and yet did nothing. In 2016, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice told her staff to “stand down” and “knock it off” as they drew up plans to “strike back” against the Russians, according to an account from Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump”.
Why did Obama go soft on Russia? My opinion is that it was because he was singularly focused on the nuclear deal with Iran. Obama wanted Putin in the deal, and to stand up to him on election interference would have, in Obama’s estimation, upset that negotiation. This turned out to be a disastrous policy decision.
Obama’s supporters claim he did stand up to Russia by deploying sanctions after the election to punish them for their actions. But, Obama, according to the Washington Post, “approved a modest package… with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic.” In other words, a toothless response to a serious incursion.
A legitimate question Republicans are asking is whether the potential “collusion” narrative was invented to cover up the Obama administration’s failures. Two years have been spent fomenting the idea that Russia only interfered because it had a willing, colluding partner: Trump. Now that Mueller has popped that balloon, we must ask why this collusion narrative was invented in the first place.
Given Obama’s record on Russia, one operating theory is that his people needed a smokescreen to obscure just how wrong they were. They’ve blamed Trump. They’ve even blamed Mitch McConnell, in some twisted attempt to deflect blame to another branch of government.
But the Mueller report makes it clear that the Russian interference failure was Obama’s alone. He was the commander-in-chief when all of this happened. He arguably chose to prioritize his relationship with Putin vis-à-vis Iran over pushing back against Russian election interference that had been going on for at least two years.