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‘He colluded or obstructed’: Trump turns Russia suspicions against Obama

President Trump (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Under fire from Justice Department and congressional investigations, President Trump on Monday attempted to deflect suspicion of collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice onto his predecessor.

In a string of tweets, Trump said it was former President Barack Obama who “colluded or obstructed” by not taking more decisive action against Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential 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 … 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.”

Trump was likely responding to a Washington Post report, published Friday, detailing the Obama administration’s response to Russia’s interference in the election. That account portrayed Obama as reluctant to retaliate decisively for fear of appearing to favor Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump, contending Obama “colluded or obstructed,” appeared to suggest Obama purposefully declined to act.

“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!”

It was not immediately clear who Trump believes owes him an apology.

Trump’s assertion that Obama “did NOTHING” ignores a White House statement Oct. 7 accusing the Kremlin of orchestrating the email hacks of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. That statement was largely overlooked, however, as it landed the same day as the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which then-candidate Trump gloated about groping women without their consent.

Obama’s office declined to comment on Trump’s tweets. However, a former Obama White House aide told Yahoo News that the Twitter broadside was an attempt to distract the public from the controversial health care legislation Republicans are rushing through Congress.

“The Administration’s attacks on President Obama’s response to Russia cyber meddling is a transparent effort to distract from the terrible impact of their ACA repeal bill,” the Obama aide said.

The aide continued: “This situation was taken extremely seriously, as is evident by President Obama raising this issue directly with President Putin; 17 intelligence agencies issuing an extraordinary public statement; our homeland security officials working relentlessly to bolster the cyber defenses of voting infrastructure around the country; the President directing a comprehensive intelligence review, and ultimately issuing a robust response including shutting down two Russian compounds, sanctioning nine Russian entities and individuals, and ejecting 35 Russian diplomats from the country. The Obama Administration’s interest in making sure the response was bipartisan wasn’t for the sake of being bipartisan. It was necessary because we needed the buy-in from state and local election administrators — many of whom were Republican partisans and/or skeptical of federal government. What was profoundly troubling was Senator McConnell’s unwillingness to help — only making matters worse.”

Monday marked the second occasion in recent days that Trump explicitly sought to connect Obama to the Kremlin’s election interference. Friday, Trump tweeted, “Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?”

He later added, “Since the Obama Administration was told way before the 2016 Election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T!” That was soon followed by “Obama Administration official said they ‘choked’ when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?”

Additional reporting was contributed by Olivier Knox.

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