It’s been a rough week for the legacy of the Obama administration. Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee launched a Democrat-endorsed probe into former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s conduct during the campaign – when it’s widely believed she colluded with the Clinton’s to “soften” the FBI’s probe into Hillary’s mishandling of classified information. Earlier, sure-thing Democratic neophyte Jon Ossoff lost a special election in Georgia that he was supposedly guaranteed to win, leading America’s least—preferred party of overly brazen corporatists to an embarrassing 5-0 defeat, and stoking calls for Nancy Pelosi – the Dem’s longtime leader in Congress – to step aside.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, revelations that Russian hackers targeted voting systems in 21 states – and the Obama administration did nothing about it – have inspired the president’s fellow Democrats to turn on their once-revered leader.
As the Hill reports, Democrats are criticizing no-drama Obama for being too cautious with his disclosures about “the Russia problem” in the run-up to the 2016 election, claiming that he shouldn't have hesitated to inform the public about the allegations:
“The Obama administration is under fresh scrutiny for its response to Russian meddling in the election after new details emerged this week about how the White House weighed its actions against the 2016 political environment.
Then-President Obama was too cautious in the months leading up to the election, frustrated Democratic lawmakers and strategists say.
“It was inadequate. I think they could have done a better job informing the American people of the extent of the attack,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who co-chairs the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee."
Meanwhile, Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan, who recently challenged Pelosi for leadership of the party, is leading a small group of Congressional Dems in criticizing Chuck Schumer, Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership's irrational focus on the Russia investigations. Ryan believes the focus on making the Dems appear out of touch to working Americans who care more about economic issues than the Trump witch hunt, as the Hill reports. Ryan's attempt to lead from behind comes as some of his peers push for the creation of a 9/11-style Commission to launch what would be the fourth investigation into the Trump campaign.
Even though the contradiction here is obvious – Dems are complaining that the party is too focused on Russia, while criticizing Obama for not releasing more scurrilous details about alleged interference –at least Ryan recognizes that the focus on Russia will hurt the Dems where it counts: In next year's midterms.
"We can't just talk about Russia because people back in Ohio aren't really talking that much about Russia, about Putin, about Michael Flynn,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told MSNBC Thursday. “They're trying to figure out how they're going to make the mortgage payment, how they're going to pay for their kids to go to college, what their energy bill looks like.
“And if we don't talk more about their interest than we do about how we're so angry with Donald Trump and everything that's going on,” he added, “then we're never going to be able to win elections.”
Turning back to Obama, the president's motives in withholding the information definitely leave room for speculation. Was he worried that the public would interpret the disclosure as transparent fearmongering intended to benefit the Clinton campaign – or maybe he thought it would make the Democrats and Clinton look ineffectual in the face of a problem that couldn’t be solved with a couple of well-timed drone strikes? For what it's worth, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says Obama withheld the information because he didn’t want to play into Trump’s claims that the election was being “rigged.”
"Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday told lawmakers that the White House held back on responding to Russia because it didn’t want to play into fears, propagated by then-candidate Trump, that the election would be “rigged.”
“One of the candidates, as you'll recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged in some way,” Johnson said. “And so we were concerned that, by making the statement, we might in and of itself be challenging the integrity of the election process itself.”
Trump had repeatedly claimed that the outcome of the election would be “rigged” against him, alleging widespread voter fraud and inaccurate polling. He provided no evidence to back up his claims, but critics feared that his rhetoric could undermine public trust in the outcome of the election.
In any event, Obama’s decision to withhold the information has made the Dems look weak, desperate and disorganized. And now they’re rightfully worried that the administration’s countermeasures – kicking out a few dozen diplomats – have helped them lose what little credibility they still had in the eyes of the public. Meanwhile, President Trump has a few questions of his own;
'Some Republicans argue the Obama administration only started to take the Russia threat seriously after President Trump had won the election.
Trump has called the influence operation a “hoax” and dismissed the various inquiries into Russian interference in the election — which include looking for possible collusion between his campaign and Moscow — as a “witch hunt.”
“By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn't they stop them?” Trump tweeted Thursday.
The Obama administration announced on Oct. 7 that the theft and release of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails was part of a widespread campaign “intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
So what’s next for the Dems? Obama, who has already pivoted from politician to social-media celebrity, will probably continue to chime in every now and then from the peanut gallery. Meanwhile, we wait to see if the DOJ or any other interested parties piggy-back on the Senate’s investigation into Lynch’s blatant attempt at obstruction, and wonder: Could this be the controversy that leads to the unraveling of the modern Democratic Party?
Of course, President Trump couldn't resist taking a shot at his predecessor on Twitter:
Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017
By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn't they stop them?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017