President Obama blinked after engaging in a stare-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin and in doing so, revealed that he was more interested in the political ramifications of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election than national security.
If you remember, President Obama held a news conference in the middle of December following the election, claiming he told Putin on election interference to, “cut it out.” The President, doing his best impersonation of Rober De Niro as Al Capone in ‘The Untouchables’ (“Somebody messed with me, I’m going to mess with him.”) also said he sent a message to the Kremlin saying, “we can do stuff to you.”
It was all an act.
The Washington Post published a lengthy story detailing the Obama administration response to Russian interference, and the story is quite startling, especially when Obama, informed in August 2016 of the interference, effectively did nothing, even after being told Putin was going to continue. Options presented to the President included:
The early options they discussed were ambitious. They looked at sectorwide economic sanctions and cyberattacks that would take Russian networks temporarily offline. One official informally suggested — though never formally proposed — moving a U.S. naval carrier group into the Baltic Sea as a symbol of resolve.
Following that is this eye-popping revelation:
What those lower-level officials did not know was that the principals and their deputies had by late September all but ruled out any pre-election retaliation against Moscow. They feared that any action would be seen as political and that Putin, motivated by a seething resentment of Clinton, was prepared to go beyond fake news and email dumps.
It’s insanity on a level that’s hard to comprehend. Essentially, Barack Obama failed to act because he was too afraid Vladimir Putin might release information that might be more damaging to Democrats and particularly, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Obama administration, believing at that point Hillary was going to win, decided it was better to sit back and do nothing, rather than risk the scorn of Donald Trump whining about the election being “rigged.” Why would it matter? Trump blathered about the process as “rigged” going back to the primary.
People can say, “What about the measures the administration took at the end of December?” From the Post story:
But in the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package combining measures that had been drawn up to punish Russia for other issues — expulsions of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds — with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic.
Emphasis mine. The package had nothing to do with the Russia’s interference with the election, but that’s how the administration sold it.
This escapade reveals that while the Obama administration thought Hillary would win, they were not convinced. If they were certain she’d win, they’d have done something about Russia’s meddling. Obama did not.
He allowed politics to overtake his role as Commander-In-Chief and that’s a legacy for which he should be ashamed.