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President Donald Trump on Twitter appeared to acknowledge Russian meddling in the presidential election in a tweet Friday that attacked former President Barack Obama.
"Just out," Trump tweeted Friday, "The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?"
Trump may have been referencing a Washington Post report that the CIA had confirmed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct influence on his government's alleged interference in the 2016 election. The report described the administration debating dozens of options in how to stop or punish Russia, including cyber-attacks and releasing information embarrassing to Putin.
Trump has been reluctant to acknowledge allegations of Russian interference. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday referenced Trump’s comments at a January press conference in which the then president-elect said "as far as hacking, I think it's Russia" — but Trump at the time also said "it could be others."
The U.S. intelligence community on Oct. 7 publicly blamed Russia for the hacks and email leaks during the campaign. The Obama administration announced sanctions on Russia in December. That same month, Obama said he personally discussed the interference with Russian President Vladimir Putin to "tell him to cut it out, and there were going to be some serious consequences if he didn’t."
Russia has denied attempting to interfere in the U.S. election.
Senior advisers to the president urged Trump to avoid discussing the Russia investigation earlier this week, one top official told NBC News. But by Thursday morning the president had already returned to his preferred social media platform to discuss Russia, the 2016 election and the Obama administration.
On Friday, NBC News reported that the Trump administration has so far taken little meaningful action to prevent Russian hacking, leaking or disruption in the next national election in 2018. Dozens of state officials told NBC News they have received little direction from Washington about election security.
Trump on Saturday tried to shift the attention on the Obama administration for Russian interference. "Focus on them, not T!" the president tweeted.