National Security

Obama Backed Off Putin's Election Meddling

New book alleges that Obama opted to "stand down" rather than aggressively confront Moscow.

Political Editors · Mar. 12, 2018

Did Barack Obama order a “stand-down” to his intel chiefs stopping them from aggressively confronting the Russians and their interference campaign during the 2016 presidential election? A soon-to-be released book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn entitled Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump seems to be making this assertion.

In released excerpts from their book, Isikoff and Corn write that when Obama and company were first alerted to Russian election meddling efforts, they debated as to “how forcefully to respond.” Eventually the decision was made, as Isikoff and Corn explain, “It was a debate that would culminate that summer with a dramatic directive from Obama’s national security adviser to the NSC (National Security Council) staffers developing aggressive proposals to strike back against the Russians: ‘Stand down.’”

The authors note that Obama and company had essentially two separate Russia-related meddling problems. The first was the Russian hacking and leaking of documents and emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and the second was a number of Russian cyberattacks on several states’ “election systems, particularly voter registration databases.” Obama seemingly took the threat to states’ election systems as more of a concern but the solution sought was to increase federal government oversight of state elections — something that the states rightfully bristled against.

Never, it seems, was Obama willing to go directly at the source of the problem: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Instead Obama followed a similar pattern of “leading from behind,” or in reality not leading at all. In issuing the “stand-down” order, Obama opted for the most part to ignore the Russian problem and assume, like much of the mainstream media, that Clinton would win anyway. And, as Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey observes, “Had Obama not been ‘standing down’ on Russia for practically the entirety of his presidency and openly mocking Republicans like Mitt Romney who correctly pointed out the threat they represented, he might not have been left with a bad hand in September 2016.”

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