President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that Democrats only became concerned about allegations of Russian interference into the 2016 election after his upset victory, pointing to a quote from former President Barack Obama as proof.
“’There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, there’s no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time, and so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes,’” Trump wrote on Twitter, quoting Obama’s remarks from an October, 2016, White House press conference.
“The President Obama quote just before election. That’s because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn’t want to ‘rock the boat,’” Trump continued in a second post. “When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems.”
“I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts. Total Fake News!” Trump, who has directed decidedly softer rhetoric towards the Kremlin and recently opted against imposing upon Russia Congress-approved sanctions, wrote on Twitter in a subsequent post.
A spokeswoman for Obama’s post-presidential office did not immediately return a request for comment.
The argument that Democrats have used allegations of Russian cyberattacks as an excuse for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s surprising loss is well-worn territory for the president, who has regularly leveled such claims through his 13 months in office. But his Tuesday resurfacing of that line of attack comes days after special counselor Robert Mueller announced indictments against 13 Russian nationals for their alleged efforts to interfere in the 2016 race.
Trump has previously called Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference efforts, as well as allegations that individuals tied to Trump or his campaign colluded with those efforts, a “witch hunt.” The indictment from Mueller’s team alleged that efforts by the named Russians began as early as 2014.
Seizing on that timeline, Trump sought over the weekend to shift blame onto his predecessor, writing on Twitter Monday that “Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?” Tuesday, citing a report he had apparently seen on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” Trump criticized Obama’s foreign policy towards Russia.
“Thank you to @foxandfriends for the great timeline on all of the failures the Obama Administration had against Russia, including Crimea, Syria and so much more. We are now starting to win again!” Trump wrote.
Trump’s remarks come as his administration faces questions over its reaction to Russian election meddling, with lawmakers criticizing their failure to impose congressional sanctions passed in response to the 2016 interference campaign.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Tuesday on Fox News that Trump “has been clear” about wanting Russia to cease its attempts to meddle in U.S. elections, but declined to give details on what actions the president would take in response to their efforts in 2016.
“He wants this type of action from Russia to be stopped,” Gidley said. “But we’re not going to telegraph what he’s going to do to punish Russia.”