President Trump said Thursday that he agreed Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential race and slammed former President Barack Obama for doing nothing about it, saying he didn’t “choke” but made a political decision.
The president said Mr. Obama ignored Russian meddling in the election because he thought, as did most people, that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was going to win the election.
“The reason is he thought Hillary was going to win. If he thought I was going to win, he would have done plenty about it,” Mr. Trump said at a press conference in Poland. “His people said he choked. I don’t think he choked.”
Mr. Obama reportedly learned of the Russia meddling as early as August and did not take action until after the Nov. 8 election.
A spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee blasted Mr. Trump for blaming Mr. Obama.
DNC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said it was “extremely worrisome to watch Trump bash freedoms afforded by our First Amendment and slam our former president, all while standing on foreign soil.”
She accused Mr. Trump of dismissing the seriousness of the Russian hacking.
“Trump is currently in charge of protecting our country, but his dismissal of Russia’s attack is nothing less than a failure to stand up for American democracy and an invitation for the Kremlin to come back in 2018,” Ms. Watson said.
Mr. Trump has been under pressure from the media to admit Russia interfered in the election and was asked about it at the joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
This issue is expected to come up Friday when Mr. Trump has his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On his second trip abroad as president, Mr. Trump visited close ally Poland before going to the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Mr. Trump had resisted acknowledging Russian meddling in the election, which Democrats and left-leaning news media used to delegitimize the election results, although there has been no evidence that Russia affected the outcome.
“I agree. I think it was Russia, and I think it was probably other people and/or other countries. And I seen nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows for sure,” he said.
Mr. Trump compared the U.S. intelligence community assessment of Russian interference to the erroneous 2003 assessment that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which helped trigger the Iraq War.
“Everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what, that led to one big mess,” he said. “They were wrong, and it led to a mess.”
• Dave Boyer contributed to this article.