Months of harping on President Trump’s purported ties to Russia may end up backfiring on Democrats as the White House turns the focus to former President Barack Obama’s failure to address Russian hacking, operatives from both sides said.
On ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway cited a Washington Post report detailing Obama’s modest response and public silence about evidence of Russia’s intent to hack U.S. election systems, with an anonymous Obama official admitting “we sort of choked.”
“I have a hacking question for the Obama administration: Why did you, quote, ‘choke’ in the name of one of their senior administration officials? Why did you do nothing? Why didn’t you inform candidate Trump?” Conway told host George Stephanopoulos. “I know you thought Hillary would win, but how could you not reveal important information about Russia hacking? … I think the previous administration has a lot of questions to answer given this Russian obsession by everyone.”
Trump tweeted mockingly yesterday, “Hillary Clinton colluded with the Democratic Party in order to beat Crazy Bernie Sanders. Is she allowed to so collude? Unfair to Bernie!”
Some top Democrats have begun downplaying Russia in response to the Washington Post report. U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN yesterday Obama “should have done more.”
“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,” Schiff said.
Andrew Hemingway, Trump’s New Hampshire campaign co-chairman, said the probe of Russian meddling will likely uncover more problematic facts for Democrats.
“The more that the Democrats want to try and harp on Russia, the more it’s going to uncover the role that the Obama administration had,” Hemingway said. “This is why the Trump administration has been saying, let’s get a special counsel, let’s actually really investigate what’s happening here.”
Former Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Philip Johnston said while the investigation proceeds, “Democrats need to develop a strong economic message that will resonate with the people that may be more inclined to support Trump. I don’t think they’re going to be moved by this Russian issue.”
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