CNN contributor Scott Jennings, who served as a special assistant to former President George W. Bush and campaign adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), wrote an op-ed Friday with his take on the Mueller report and how it undeniably makes former President Barack Obama look “just plain bad.”
“On his watch, the Russians meddled in our democracy while his administration did nothing about it,” Jennings wrote.
The Mueller report flatly states that Russia began interfering in American democracy in 2014. Over the next couple of years, the effort blossomed into a robust attempt to interfere in our 2016 presidential election. The Obama administration knew this was going on and yet did nothing. In 2016, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice told her staff to “stand down” and “knock it off” as they drew up plans to “strike back” against the Russians, according to an account from Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump”.
And then Jennings poses a question: Why did the Obama administration, and Obama specifically, go soft on Russia?
He concludes that the Iran deal, supposed to have been Obama’s great legacy, needed Putin’s support. And confronting the Russian leader over election meddling would have meant putting that support in jeopardy. Remember “tell Mr. Putin I’ll have more flexibility after the election”? That’s an example of someone looking to make compromises with a regime, not standing firm against what would ultimately become a clear attempt at undermining the integrity of the American electoral process.
Jennings also tackles the question on everyone’s mind (well, everyone who’s not still holding out hope for impeachment because Trump’s personality rubs them the wrong way): where did the collusion narrative come from?
Given Obama’s record on Russia, one operating theory is that his people needed a smokescreen to obscure just how wrong they were. They’ve blamed Trump. They’ve even blamed Mitch McConnell, in some twisted attempt to deflect blame to another branch of government. Joe Biden once claimed McConnell refused to sign a letter condemning the Russians during the 2016 election. But McConnell’s office counters that the White House asked him to sign a letter urging state electors to accept federal help in securing local elections — and he did. You can read it here.I guess if I had failed to stop Russia from marching into Crimea, making a mess in Syria, and hacking our democracy I’d be looking to blame someone else, too.But the Mueller report makes it clear that the Russian interference failure was Obama’s alone. He was the commander-in-chief when all of this happened. In 2010, he and Eric Holder, his Attorney General, declined to prosecute Julian Assange, who then went on to help Russia hack the Democratic National Committee’s emails in 2016. He arguably chose to prioritize his relationship with Putin vis-à-vis Iran over pushing back against Russian election interference that had been going on for at least two years.