There's one man former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton blames for her loss more than FBI Director James Comey and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
That man is former President Barack Obama, according to a scoop from Axios, a new inside-the-beltway outlet helmed by Mike Allen, the former chief White House correspondent for Politico.
According to Allen, members of Clinton's team are frustrated Obama didn't come out earlier and more forcefully with evidence that Russia interfered in the presidential election — a conclusion since reached by the FBI and the CIA. Had the former president imposed sanctions on Russia, some Clintonites believe, Americans might be saying, "Madam President," right now.
The Obama White House waited until October to say it was "confident" the Kremlin was behind the hacks into the Democratic National Committee and the emails of then-Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta.
By letting it linger for so long without a strong and clear response from the White House, the staffers argued, American voters were left in the dark to sort out all the reports of interference on their own.
"The White House was like everyone else: They thought she'd win anyway," an unnamed Clinton official told Axios. "If he had done more, it might have lessened a lot of aggrieved feelings, although I don't think it would have altered the outcome."
"The Russia thing was like a spy novel, and anything he had said or done would have helped get people to believe it was real," the source added.
It is worth noting that, even if the Obama administration was quick to identify the hacks as an attack by Russia, the information that was obtained by the hacking was already out there.
Voters already had questions about Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state; many were concerned over the DNC's apparent effort to quash Clinton's Democratic primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; and Christians were turned off by Podesta emails about the Catholic Church, which was described as a "middle ages dictatorship" in need of "a little democracy and respect for gender equality."
In addition, Comey's decision to reopen the FBI's probe into Clinton's emails just days before the election — a move the Clinton camp called "extraordinary" — certainly didn't help. As for Obama, there isn't a whole lot more he could have done to aid Clinton's campaign.
Over the course of the election, Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama frequently campaigned for Clinton, who benefited from a ride on Air Force One, giving her campaign a presidential appeal. So, according to the Axios report, the frustration goes both ways.
In the time since the election, team Obama has been, as Allen wrote, "befuddled on how she missed what to him was an easy layup of a win, given his own popularity on Election Day and Trump's vulgarity."
One unnamed Obama aide told Allen that the White House was deliberate in not commenting too quickly on the hacks because they didn't want to appear to be politicizing the alleged interference. Instead, the Obama administration was focused on ensuring the integrity of the actual vote on Election Day.
Even Obama commented on the matter in his end-of-the-year press conference, telling reporters there is nothing his administration could have done to quell the hacks or sway the ultimate outcome of the election, according to Politico:
I know that there is been folks out there who suggested that somehow if we went out there and made big announcements and thumped our chests about a bunch of stuff that somehow that would potentially spook the Russians.
The idea that somehow public shaming is going to be effective, I think doesn’t read the thought process in Russia very well.