Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that the Obama administration wasn’t sure how to respond to Russian interference during the presidential election because they feared accusations of election tampering.
“There was a great deal of discussion about a more robust reaction earlier, but there was concern on the part of the president himself because of allegations of rigging, which candidate [Donald] Trump was then espousing, that anything that the president did would be viewed as political,” Mr. Clapper said on CNN.
Former President Barack Obama’s handling of Russia’s attempted meddling has come to the forefront of the debate again after excerpts from former aide Ben Rhodes’ book “The World As It Is” were released this week. Mr. Clapper said his memory of that time is very similar to the account he’s seen in the excerpts.
“I remember distinctly one occasion where there was a briefing team sent to the hill to brief about the Russia interference, and the team was instructed not to be used as pawns by the Obama administration in the political run up to the election,” Mr. Clapper said, referring to Capitol Hill.
Mr. Rhodes’ book also details Mr. Obama’s disheartened reaction to Mr. Trump’s victory and the aftermath of the 2016 election.