Clin­ton faults Obama on Rus­sian hack­ing threat

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARDSON

The Hil­lary Clin­ton cam­paign and its al­lies, ral­ly­ing be­hind the con­tention that cy­ber­war­fare played a role in swing­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion for Don­ald Trump, are now tak­ing part­ing shots at the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity and the me­dia for fail­ing to treat the Rus­sian hack­ing threat with suf­fi­cient ur­gency.

Many Clin­ton con­fi­dants place blame for the Elec­toral Col­lege de­feat squarely at the feet of FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey, ar­gu­ing that his let­ter to Congress 11 days be­fore the elec­tion reopen­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mrs. Clin­ton’s pri­vate email server turned the tide de­ci­sively in fa­vor of Mr. Trump.

But Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podesta said Sun­day that the FBI is also cul­pa­ble for neg­li­gence in re­sponse to sus­pected Rus­sian med­dling in the demo­cratic process.

Mr. Podesta said the agency did not con­tact him about the hack into his per­sonal email ac­count un­til af­ter Wik­iLeaks be­gan pub­lish­ing his emails by the thou­sands on Oct. 7.

“Two days later, the FBI con­tacted me, and first thing the agent said to me was, ‘I don’t know if you’re aware, but your email ac­count might have been hacked,’” Mr. Podesta said on

NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I said, ‘Yes, I was aware of that.’”

“That was the first and last time I talked to the FBI,” he said.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta E. Lynch dis­missed Mr. Podesta’s ac­cu­sa­tion that the agency de­layed a re­sponse to the cy­ber­at­tacks. She said he wasn’t privy to agency de­ci­sion-mak­ing on the mat­ter.

“I can’t com­ment on Mr. Podesta’s sources or where he gets that in­for­ma­tion or why he has that view,” Ms. Lynch said in an in­ter­view broad­cast Sun­day on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But what I can say is that he’s not in­volved in the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, so he wouldn’t be privy to ev­ery­thing that would have been done or said to that. But, as I said, he’s en­ti­tled to his opin­ion.”

She said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is “not even over, so it’s im­pos­si­ble to char­ac­ter­ize it in any one way or the other.”

Demo­cratic National Com­mit­tee in­terim Chair­woman Donna Brazile un­der­mined Pres­i­dent Obama’s claim that hack­ing at­tempts against top party of­fi­cials ceased af­ter he told Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin to “cut it out” at a con­fer­ence in Septem­ber.

“No, they did not stop,” Ms. Brazile said Sun­day on ABC’s “This Week.” “They came af­ter us ab­so­lutely every day un­til the end of the elec­tion. They tried to hack into our sys­tem re­peat­edly. We put up the very best cy­ber­se­cu­rity — what I call in­fra­struc­ture — to stop them, but they con­stantly, they came af­ter us.”

De­spite claim­ing credit for halt­ing the cy­ber­at­tacks, Mr. Obama said he took a cau­tious ap­proach to­ward Rus­sia’s sus­pected interference in the demo­cratic process so as not to dis­credit the le­git­i­macy of the elec­tion.

“I wanted to make sure we were play­ing this thing straight,” the pres­i­dent said at his end-ofthe-year press con­fer­ence, re­spond­ing to crit­i­cism that his ad­min­is­tra­tion did not do more to thwart the hack­ing.

When asked whether she was dis­ap­pointed in the pres­i­dent’s timid re­sponse, Ms. Brazile said she was “dis­ap­pointed we went through this process.”

Mr. Podesta was less re­served.

“Do I, in ret­ro­spect, wish they had done more?” Mr. Podesta said of the White House. “Sure, of course I do.”

Mike Rogers, a for­mer Repub­li­can con­gress­man who chaired the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, said the pres­i­dent’s re­sponse to the sus­pected cy­ber­at­tacks was typ­i­cal for an ad­min­is­tra­tion un­will­ing to hold Rus­sia ac­count­able.

“When you look at what hap­pened in the last eight years, we re­ally walked away from Ukraine, we walked away from the troop in­crease by Rus­sians in this coun­try of Ge­or­gia, we did this con­vo­luted chem­i­cal deal that re­ally alien­ated our al­lies in the Mid­dle East with Rus­sia, and it strength­ened their ties with Iran,” Mr. Rogers said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “All of that, pretty bad stuff.”

“For the pres­i­dent to make a phone call and say, ‘Well, cut that out,’ tells you how far we are be­hind in solid peace-through-strength diplo­macy,” he said.

Al­though he ac­knowl­edged the Clin­ton cam­paign bears some re­spon­si­bil­ity for the out­come on Elec­tion Day, not even the me­dia were free from Mr. Podesta’s ex­er­cise in fault-find­ing.

“I’m not say­ing that it’s ev­ery­body else’s fault — we bear re­spon­si­bil­ity for the out­come as well, I know that,” he said. “But The me­dia did not cover it­self with glory in the way that they han­dled, I think, the mat­ter. The New York Times re­ported this week in their own re­port­ing that they be­came an in­stru­ment for Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence.”

Asked whether the elec­tion was “free and fair,” Mr. Podesta de­murred.

“I think it was dis­torted by the Rus­sian in­ter­ven­tion. Let’s put it that way.”


BRO­KEN COM­MIT­MENT: As sec­re­tary of state, Hil­lary Clin­ton reached out to Rus­sian leader Vladimir Putin as part of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “re­set” pol­icy, jet­ti­son­ing Ge­orge W. Bush’s cold shoul­der over na­tion­al­is­tic rhetoric.

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