Yesterday President Trump launched into tweetstorm against Barack Obama’s handling of Russian cyberattacks during the 2016 election. The twitter rant may have been a response to a weekend story in the Washington Post, an outlet that the president called “fake news” in a tweet today, that detailed Barack Obama’s lackluster handling of cyberattacks that were well-known long before the election.
“The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win,” President Trump tweeted on Monday. “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,” the president continued in a second tweet.
“The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia under a magnifying glass, they have zero ‘tapes’ of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!” Trump’s third and fourth tweets said.
In a final tweet on the subject, Trump cited a Fox News story, saying, “From @FoxNews “Bombshell: In 2016, Obama dismissed idea that anyone could rig an American election.” Check out his statement – Witch Hunt!” Trump did not provide a link to the story, but a Fox News clip on YouTube does show then-President Obama saying precisely what Trump said he did.
The Trump tweets signal an important shift in Trump’s position on the Russian cyberattacks. From the earliest reports of the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, Trump has denied reports of Russian involvement. Two months after the election and after being presented with evidence by intelligence officials, Trump released a statement on January 6 that blamed “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people” for the hacking. Since then, Trump has backtracked, calling the “Russia story” a “hoax” and “fake news” on numerous occasions. Now, as information emerges that is damaging to Barack Obama, President Trump changes his tune.
President Trump is on the mark with this series of tweets. While there is so far no evidence that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to throw the election, the scandal of Russian cyberattacks has become more frightening as details emerge about the extent of the Russian hacking which very nearly compromised voting machine software and voter databases. President Obama’s fecklessness in the face of the cyberattack on the core of American democracy is a major part of the story.
Although much of the blame for the response to the attack lies with the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration carries a share of the blame as well. Trump’s denials of Russian meddling in the election have undoubtedly emboldened the Putin regime, which has also attacked elections in European countries. Russian hacking in Ukraine has taken an even more ominous turn where banks and electric companies have been targeted. Russian hacking has been responsible for blackouts in the Ukraine in apparent test runs for malware that is to be used elsewhere.
The Trump Administration response to Russia’s cyberattacks has not been encouraging. While Congress is attempting to pass a new bill imposing sanctions on Russian citizens and organizations tied to cyberattacks and hacking, but there are reports that the Trump Administration is working against the bill. The silence on the hacking from the Trump Administration has been deafening. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has said, “I do not see any indication that Mr. Putin would want a positive relationship with us,” is an exception.
While Trump is correct that there is no evidence of illegal collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, he is also correct in his admission that there is ample evidence that Russia meddled with American elections in an unprecedented way and that President Obama bungled the response.
The Russian cyberattacks demand a response and American electoral systems, power grids and financial institutions need to be protected from future attacks. The responsibility for a response and protection from future attacks falls on Mr. Trump’s shoulders.
Originally published on The Resurgent