U.S. President Donald Trump is again blaming former President Barack Obama 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 on Twitter Monday. The attack on his predecessor 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.
In December 2016, Obama issued sanctions against nine Russian individuals and entities for election meddling and harassing U.S. diplomats in Moscow, including Russia’s GRU and FSB intelligence services. Obama also ordered 35 Russian government officials in Washington and San Francisco to leave the country for “acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status and consular activities” and ordered the closure of two waterfront compounds the administration said were used for Russian intelligence activities.
Earlier Monday, the Kremlin denied involvement in election meddling. 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.
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 predates 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.