For a year and a half, Donald Trump ignored practically everyone, including his own intelligence officials, and embraced the fiction that Russia may not have attacked the American elections in 2016. About a week ago, however, the president shifted his posture -- and started blaming his predecessor.
"Obama did nothing about Russia!" Trump tweeted, "Why didn't he do something?" Trump asked in a different tweet on the same subject.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has pushed the same line. Asked last week about the Trump administration's reluctance to prepare for another round of attacks in 2018, Sanders seemed eager to change the subject: "Let's not forget that this happened under Obama.... If you want to blame somebody on past problems, then you need to look at the Obama administration."
The problem, of course, is that every time Trump World turns its attention to officials' response to Russian intervention in 2016, we're reminded that it wasn't Barack Obama who was negligent -- it was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Sunday said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "watered down" a warning about Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2016 election and defended the Obama administration's response to foreign meddling in the campaign.
The language in a September 2016 letter from congressional leaders to state election officials was drastically softened at McConnell's urging, McDonough said in an exclusive interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Let's back up for a minute. As regular readers know, the Obama White House, swayed by the evidence compiled by U.S. intelligence agencies, wanted bipartisan support to push back against Russian intrusion, and in mid-September 2016, the then-president dispatched counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, then-FBI Director James Comey, and then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to brief top members of Congress.
Obama didn't want to be seen as using intelligence for partisan or electoral ends, so he sought a "show of solidarity and bipartisan unity" against foreign manipulation of our democracy.
That didn't happen -- because McConnel refused.