At his year-end news conference, President Obama was talking tough, remarking
What I was concerned about in particular was making sure [the DNC hack] wasn't compounded by potential hacking that could hamper vote counting, affect the actual election process itself. So in early September when I saw president Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn't. And in fact we did not see further tampering of the election process.
But back home in early September, the President's tone was different as he aimed for "a show of solidarity and bipartisan unity." Homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco, FBI Director James Comey, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson were sent to Capitol Hill to meet with leading Republican and Democratic members of Congress to urge a united front against “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”
While the Democrats were all in,
According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics. at least two Republicans balked, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.
Two months after the President backed down, Donald Trump was elected President and Republicans maintained control of the Senate, which throughout the year had been considered up-for-grabs. And now this:
"Recently, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has received requests from Members of Congress, several electors of the Electoral College and the general public for additional information on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election," the office said in a statement.
President Barack Obama has ordered a "deep dive" on that alleged Russian interference that will be completed before he leaves office on Jan. 20.
"Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the intelligence community stands ready to brief Congress and will make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods," the DNI statement reads.
No one believes Donald Trump is going to be denied, or even nearly denied, the presidency when the electors meet on Monday. Nevertheless, they are not bound by law or the Constitution to vote for the individual who prevailed in the states whose electoral votes exceed 269. They ought to know who it is they're voting for and should not be given the privilege of plausible deniability when (if ever) the intelligence community deigns to inform the public.
President Obama should not be given a free pass, either. When Mitch McConnell stood up to him, he responded as if McConnell were Bashir Assad. In his own defense, Obama maintains
I wanted to make sure everybody understood we were playing this thing straight. That we weren't trying to advantage one side or another but what we were trying to do is let people know that this had taken place. Part of the goal here was to make sure we did not do the work of the leakers for them by raising more and more questions about the integrity of the election right before the election was taking place at a time when the president-elect himself was racing questions about the integrity of the election.
If President Obama had set out to lend credibility and prestige to Donald J. Trump, he could not have done a better job. He states "the president'elect himself was raising questions about the integrity of the election." Yet, Trump at the time was a candidate, not a president-elect, the latter an effort to upgrade his status and givinghim credibility for questioning the election's integrity.
The President wanted "to make sure everybody understood we were playing this thing straight. That we weren't trying to advantage one side or another but what we were trying to do is let people know that this had taken place. "
Nonetheless, to "let people know that this had taken place" would enhance one of Donald Trump's central claims, that the election was "rigged." However, informing the voting public additionally that a consensus of the intelligence community had concluded that the intent of any "rigging" was to weaken Trump's opponent would have increased the range of data available to the public and empowered voters.
Instead, the President released limited information, thereby "advantaging" one side, that of Donald Trump and his Party. Unable to predict the pivotal role of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Obama may have calculated that Hillary Clinton was a strong favorite to be elected, whatever approach the President would take toward Russian incursion into the American electoral process.
Obama's approach would undermine the Democratic Party's effort to retake the U.S. Senate. However, even with a Republican Senate (and House), the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's greatest legacy, would be protected from repeal and Obama's legacy largely protected. Were it to have subverted Hillary Clinton's presidency, so be it.