In the aftermath of Robert Mueller indicting 13 Russian nationals for intervening in the 2016 election, Trump has hit on a new defense: Actually, it’s all Obama’s fault.
The argument, such as it is, goes like this: Russian meddling occurred in 2016. Barack Obama was president in 2016. Therefore, it’s Obama’s fault that Russia interfered in the election.
There are a number of flaws with this reasoning. For one, there is a substantial body of evidence that, at the very least, the Trump campaign played footsie with Russian operatives during the 2016 election. It also suggests that Trump has been tougher on Russia than Obama was, a claim for which there is no evidence.
But the biggest problem is that Obama tried to do something about Russian meddling but was blocked by Mitch McConnell. Last year, The Washington Post reported that McConnell “voiced skepticism” when presented with intelligence by the FBI suggesting that Russia was trying to undermine Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Because of McConnell’s intransigence, the Obama administration decided not to go public with the information, fearing that it would just lead to a partisan squabble and accusations that it was trying to influence the election on Clinton’s behalf. (That said, it’s unclear whether the Obama administration would have intervened if it thought that Clinton losing was a serious possibility.)
The Obama administration could have done more to publicize Russian interference in the 2016 election, sure. But it failed to act because of partisan pressure from Republicans.