Rep. Adam Schiff said Sunday the indictment of 13 Russians involved in meddling with the 2016 election doesn’t close the case on whether the Trump campaign was involved.
But the California Democrat admitted the Obama administration should have done more when it became known in 2014 that Russians were attempting to cause chaos.
He said there is now “overwhelming and unequivocal” evidence that Russia did interfere with the election despite President Trump’s denials.
“It is inexplicable that the President of the United States continues to sit on sanctions that Congress passed,” Mr. Schiff told CNN, saying the Obama administration’s inaction is no excuse for Mr. Trump not to punish Russia.
Mr. Trump seized on that opportunity Sunday, saying Mr. Schiff was right President Obama erred on his handling of Russian interference, but the president also took a dig at Mr. Schiff, calling him “the leakin’ monster of no control.”
“He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!” Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday.
The indictment issued Friday accuses Russians of creating fake identities online to “sow discord” in the 2016 election. Officials said their efforts date back to 2014, while President Obama was still in office.
After Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the charges, Mr. Trump tweeted that the election results weren’t impacted despite Russian efforts.
“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!” Mr. Trump tweeted on Sunday.
“This is a president who claims vindication anytime anyone sneezes,” Mr. Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union” in reaction to the tweets.
Mr. Schiff, who is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee involved in the Russian probe, said these indictments only speak to one element of interference, which was social media activities.
“It doesn’t contain any of the allegations that are most known to the public and that is the Russian hacking into the Democratic institutions,” Mr. Schiff said.
But former special counsel Ken Starr, who oversaw the Clinton’s Whitewater investigation, said the word “unwittingly” in the indictments suggests there was no collusion with Trump campaign officials, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation seems to be targeting foreign spies.
“There’s not a word in the indictment that suggests collusion,” Mr. Starr said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, though, said the indictment shows Mr. Mueller’s probe is back on track in its targeting of foreign enemies.
“I’ve known all along that Russia tried to subvert our 2016 election and they’re going to do the same thing in 2020 and every election thereafter unless and until we do what the indictment says, which is we view this an America being the victim,” Mr. Gowdy said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
The South Carolina Republican also said social media companies should be more proactive in identifying fake accounts.
“I would tell all my fellow citizens, be really skeptical of anything you read on social media and do your own independent research,” he said.
• Guy Taylor contributed to this report.