Obama official: “We choked on Russia hacking”

In reference to the way President Barack Obama’s administration handled its knowledge that the Russians were hacking government communications prior to the 2016 election, the word of the day is “choked.”

Media outlets are going bonkers over a quote from an unnamed former senior Obama official who reportedly told the Washington Post, “It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend. I feel like we sort of choked.”

According to CNN, “The Washington Post report details how the CIA’s assessment that Putin was directly involved in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the US presidential election in an effort to help Trump prompted the Obama administration to debate dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia. Those included proposed cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, and the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and economic sanctions.”

Instead of taking any harsh measures against Russia for “helping Trump,” Obama took a milder course of action; he closed a couple of Russian compounds, ousted 35 diplomats, and imposed some slap-on-the-wrist economic sanctions.

It’s also being reported that Obama was also working on cyberweapons, which could be planted like bombs within Russia’s electronic infrastructure. But those plans were still being fleshed out by the time Obama left office.

The cyber-bomb project was left in President Trump’s hands and was described in the Washington Post as “the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow.”

Furthermore, it’s being reported that the CIA sent Obama and three White House aides a top-secret message in early August detailing Vladimir Putin’s efforts to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton and generally disrupt the U.S. election.

Media outlets are saying that this information was sent shortly after WikiLeaks released hacked emails in late July from the Democratic National Committee; sparking the abrupt resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her role in rigging the Democratic Party’s primary election in which Clinton was declared the undisputed winner.

Sources in the Washington Post report are defending Obama’s milquetoast response, claiming it was just too late to stop all those hacked emails from going out to WikiLeaks and other groups, while other Obama administration insiders expressed regret that they “choked.”

Tony Blinken, Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, told a CNN reporter on Friday that the administration went to great lengths to stop Russia from interfering with our country’s electoral system. “We made massive efforts so they couldn’t do that,” he said, adding, “this led to President Obama issued a very stark warning to President Putin in September at the G-20 conference in China. What we saw, or thought we saw, after that, it looked like the Russians stopped their efforts. But the damage was already done.”

In reaction to the Washington Post report, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) told CNN, “There was enormous bias in the election because of the Russians… Now we actually know: Yes, Putin directed it.”

Merkley said that Russia used extensive methods in the cyber campaign, including 1,000 trolls that were programmed to hack emails and generate fake messages on social media.

He went on to explain that Obama had to walk a fine line because if he was too aggressive with Russia, his actions could have been seen as exerting influence in the election in Clinton’s favor.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) reacted to the report in a CNN interview, stating, “I think President Trump was legitimately elected by people who voted for him, but this is a very serious issue about defending democracy and our country and integrity of the election system. So we have to go back to countering Russia disinformation. Congress has to work with the White House to give them tools to push back. This is a very serious issue.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway had this to say to CNN about the notion that Russian hacking actually influenced the 2016 presidential election: “I think it’s very important to show no nexus has been proven between what Russia or any other foreign government tried to do in the actual election result. Really, the only person making that case prominently is Hillary Clinton.”

She added, “You’ve got everyone saying that there is no nexus, that not a single vote was changed and we’re going to stand by that. We know that Donald Trump won fairly and squarely 306 electoral votes. It had nothing to do with interference.”

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