WASHINGTON, D.C.– In the latest bizarre twist in the saga of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Obama White House has now become the target of disillusioned Hillary Clinton supporters. According to a new report from Newsweek, the Obama administration allegedly blocked FBI Director James Comey from going public in the summer of 2016, several months before Russia was officially accused of tampering with the U.S. electoral process by the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Newsweek reports that Comey had pitched the idea of writing an op-ed in the New York Times detailing what he then viewed as a Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. election during a White House Situation Room meeting in June or July of 2016. Comey, despite allegedly stating his desire to move forward with the editorial, was shut down by other administration and White House officials who felt the allegations should be part of a coordinated message backed by multiple agencies. According to Newsweek’s source, this was because “an op-ed doesn’t have the same stature. It comes from one person.”
Newsweek’s sources also asserted that Comey’s editorial would have contained the same “bombshell” allegations found in a declassified intelligence report released on Jan. 6 that was ultimately based on joint assessments from the CIA, FBI and NSA.
However, this report – despite the hype it was given by various media outlets – was not a bombshell at all, as it omitted “full supporting information, including specific intelligence on key elements of the influence campaign.”
In other words, the claims within the report – as would have been the case with Comey’s editorial – omit any specifics or evidence of any sort, instead using the agencies’ feeling of “high confidence” to justify its assertion that Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency” due to a “longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.- led liberal democratic order.”
However, Newsweek’s report suggests that the Obama White House did not take these concerns very seriously at the time of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack, at least not as seriously as some Clinton supporters would have liked. For instance, Jarad Geldner, senior advisor for the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, told Newsweek that this “raises the question of why Comey or [the Department of Justice] or the White House felt that it was OK to hold that [July] press conference on Hillary Clinton’s emails but not to go public with this.” Newsweek’s sources took it a step further, stating that “the White House shut it down. They did their usual – nothing.”
Ned Price, former special assistant to President Obama, argued that these claims were unwarranted, stating that “there was absolutely no degree of sluggishness or unwarranted delay” in the release of the information related to alleged Russian electoral interference. However, Obama and the Justice Department have yet to respond to the report.
Despite the discontent among Clinton supporters that has been generated by Newsweek’s recent reporting, it remains unclear how the election outcome would have changed even if Comey had been given the go-ahead to publish his op-ed, especially in light of recent findings showing that investigations into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia turned up nothing.
“The best that Comey could reveal is that someone may have been trying to hack the DNC, and eventually, John Podesta. And yet, those hacks did nothing to change the actual voting process – they merely shed light on the illicit dealings within the Clinton campaign and the infighting within the DNC, which – as we now know – colluded both internally, with the press and with the Clinton campaign to prevent Bernie Sanders from becoming the Democratic presidential candidate.”
This recent report on the Russian hacking allegations is likely intended to keep the topic in the news cycle and at the forefront of U.S. politics while the bipartisan Senate probe into Russia’s alleged interference desperately tries to figure out why Clinton lost so readily last November. If this latest report proves anything, it’s that die-hard Clinton supporters still refuse to blame the weaknesses of the candidate herself for her electoral defeat.
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