WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted that it is former President Barack Obama and not his associates who “colluded” with Russia or obstructed justice by not more forcefully speaking out against Moscow’s attempts to interfere in last year’s presidential campaign.
The latest accusations follow a Washington Post report that detailed the Obama administration’s struggle to develop a response to Russia’s efforts. The White House ultimately decided not to retaliate against Moscow until after the election.
The president also tweeted there have been “zero ‘tapes’ of T people colluding,” presumably a reference to members of Trump’s inner circle, which is being investigated by the Department of Justice.
The U.S. intelligence community issued a statement in October warning about Russian attempts to impact the race. But Democrats have expressed frustration that the Obama administration did not more prominently address the issue ahead of Trump’s surprise election victory.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson testified to Congress last week that the administration struggled on deciding how to address the issue in a race where Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was seen as the clear frontrunner and Trump made accusations it was rigged.
“We were very concerned that we not be perceived as taking sides in the election, injecting ourselves into a very heated campaign,” Johnson told lawmakers.
Trump has given conflicting statements about whether he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin led cyber espionage efforts to undercut Clinton’s campaign. He seemed to acknowledge Russia’s meddling in a tweet storm last week.
“He believes that Russia probably was involved, potentially other countries as well," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters during the daily briefing on Monday. When pressed on what other countries may have been involved, Spicer said he would provide evidence at a later date.