The fact that the Obama administration’s response to the long-reported efforts of Putin’s Russia to play a role in the 2016 election was passive and inadequate has long been accepted. But at The Federalist, Margot Cleveland asks a good question: Why? She ties that question to several suggestive comments by Attorney General William Barr.
[T]he attorney general is probing a second scandal of the Obama administration related to the 2016 presidential election. Or it would be regarded as a second scandal if it garnered more attention: Why the Obama administration failed to forcefully respond to intelligence of Russian interference in our elections.
“Bob Mueller did some impressive work in his investigation, you know, identifying some of the Russian hackers and their influence campaign and you sort of wonder if that kind of work had been done starting in 2016, things could have been a lot different,” he said. Crawford replied, “It’s just hard to understand why it wasn’t taken more seriously.” Barr agreed, saying he had no idea why it wasn’t. “That’s one of the things I’m interested in looking at as part of my review of the Russia collusion investigation,” Barr stressed.
This is the key point:
With people warned as early as April 2016, “I’m wondering what, exactly, was the response to it if they were alarmed. Surely the response should have been more than just, you know, dangling a confidential informant in front of a peripheral player in the Trump campaign,” the attorney general told Crawford before she moved to another topic.
Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee highlights one such example: The attorney general confirmed his understanding that the Obama administration had failed to provide Trump a defensive briefing before January 2017, to inform him of “what the Russians were trying to do and [to] advise him to tell people affiliated with his campaign to be on their guard and vigilant about Russians efforts to undermine public confidence in the election.”
“I can’t fathom why it did not happen, if you’re concerned about interference in the election,” Barr told the senators. With three former U.S. attorneys involved in the campaign, “I don’t understand why the bureau would not have given a defensive briefing,” the attorney general testified.
There is much more, but you get the drift. Knowing that the Russians were carrying out a clumsy effort to sow dissension in connection with the election, Barack Obama and his minions may have chosen not to try to stop the Russian interference, but rather to rather to set up or frame Donald Trump and his campaign for “colluding” with it. Cleveland concludes:
While most of these examples connect to Spygate and suggest the Obama administration and career DOJ and FBI employees inappropriately targeted the Trump campaign, that is but half the scandal. The corollary consists of the Obama administration’s reckless handling of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and its decision to prioritize a sting of the Trump campaign over fighting foreign influence on the electorate.
I have thought there was no way the Russiagate scandal could get much worse, but now I suspect I was wrong. Another question occurs to me: reportedly, Hillary and her campaign advisers decided as early as the day after the election to blame her loss on Russian “meddling.” Did Hillary know that the Obama administration had laid the groundwork to set up the Trump campaign as complicit in the Russians’ dirty tricks? After all, she paid for the Steele dossier. It would have taken very little to clue her in to the fact that Obama administration minions, whom she probably knew well by virtue of her time as Secretary of State, had been spying on the Trump campaign with a view toward either trying to assure her victory, or disabling the incoming Trump administration in the unlikely event that he might win.