U.S. President Donald Trump is again blaming his predecessor for mishandling Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?” Trump said Monday on Twitter. It was the latest in a series of presidential tweets.
It’s been a common complaint from Trump, who has alternately downplayed the extent of Russian interference and blamed his predecessor for failing to stop it.
Earlier Monday, the Kremlin denied involvement. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the allegations are baseless.
The comments come days after U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with conducting an illegal “information warfare” campaign to disrupt the election to benefit Trump.
Mueller’s indictment of the Russian interests contended that the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based social media company with Kremlin ties, 12 of its employees, and its financial backer orchestrated the effort.
The 37-page charging document alleges the Russian conspirators sought to coordinate their effort with Trump campaign associates, but it does not accuse anyone on the Trump campaign of colluding with the Russians.
Trump has long insisted his campaign did not collude with Russia, even as the U.S. intelligence community, and now Mueller, have concluded that Russia conducted a wide campaign to meddle in the election to help Trump win.
The indictment marks the first time Mueller’s office has brought charges against Russians and Russian entities for meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump used a series of tweets Sunday to assail the various investigations by Mueller and congressional committees.
Trump was also critical of H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, who said Saturday there was “incontrovertible” evidence of Russian interference in the election.
Trump said McMaster “forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia” and his Democratic opponent, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats. Trump said McMaster overlooked Democratic funding of political opposition research in a controversial dossier alleging shady Trump links to Russian operatives.
Trump sarcastically praised one of his political opponents, Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, for saying that the Obama administration could have done more to thwart overseas cyberattacks after the 2014 hack into the files of the entertainment company Sony Pictures.
“I think that others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention,” Schiff said in an interview on NBC.
Trump responded via Twitter.
”I’ve always said Obama should’ve acted sooner,” Schiff responded in his own tweet. “But you won’t recognize the truth, impose sanctions or act at all. If McMaster can stand up to Putin, why can’t you?”
Mueller’s sprawling investigation has led to the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates on money laundering charges in connection with their lobbying efforts in Ukraine that predate Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Former National Security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russian officials and are cooperating with Mueller’s probe.
In addition to investigating Russian meddling in the election, Mueller is probing whether Trump has in several ways obstructed justice to undermine the investigation, including his firing of former FBI director James Comey, who was leading the agency’s Russia probe at the time Trump ousted him. Mueller, over Trump’s objections, was then appointed to take over the Russia probe.