Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) said in an interview that aired on Sunday that Barack Obama should have acted more forcefully when he learned about meddling by Russia into the 2016 general election. However, Schiff also criticized President Donald Trump for aiming criticism at the former president over the handling of the accusations. "I think the [Obama] administration needed to call out Russia earlier, needed to act to deter and punish Russia earlier,” Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Obama’s failure was “a very serious mistake,” Schiff said. Schiff leads Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.
“The American people needed to know, and I didn’t think it was enough to tell them after the election but rather given the seriousness of this, I think the administration needed to call out Russia earlier and needed to act to deter and punish Russia earlier, and I think that was a very serious mistake,” said Schiff on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
In an interview that aired on Sunday on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said “I heard for the first time today that Obama knew about Russia, a long time before the election, and he didn't do nothing about it and nobody wants to talk about that. That the CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even...before the election. And I hardly see it. It's an amazing thing. I hardly see it. In other words, the question is 'why didn't he do something about it?”
However, Schiff dismissed Trump’s criticisms. Schiff said that Trump "is in no position to complain here" in light of the fact that as a candidate, he openly urged the Russians to hack Clinton’s emails. To criticize Obama is now a bit like someone knowingly receiving stolen property blaming the police for not stopping the theft."
On Twitter, Trump referenced a Washington Post report on how the Obama had an internal debate over how and when to let the public know about Russian meddling in the election. Trump tweeted on Saturday, "Since the Obama Administration was told way before the 2016 Election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T!"
On ”State of the Union,” Schiff said that the Obama administration did not want to be perceived as interfering in the election or favoring Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. “I also think they were concerned about not want to play into the narrative that Donald Trump was telling, that the election was going to be rigged, even though Donald Trump was talking about a completely different kind of rigging than foreign intervention,” Schiff said. “But both of those factors did not outweigh in my view, and I argued this at the time, did not outweigh the public’s need to know,” he said.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.