Former President Barack Obama's Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the prior administration's response to Russian meddling in U.S. elections was "not sufficient." Carter made the surprisingly candid comment Sunday to CNN host Dana Bash on "State of the Union."
Carter's admission came just weeks after Obama's successor, President Donald Trump, took to Twitter to air his thoughts on the matter.
"The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?" Trump tweeted on June 23.
Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1498265028.0
Then, the next day, Trump sent two more tweets related to the Obama administration's response to Russian meddling.
"Since the Obama Administration was told way before the 2016 Election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T!" the president tweeted. He later suggested that the Obama administration "choked" because they were afraid any action they might take could "hurt" former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Since the Obama Administration was told way before the 2016 Election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1498336126.0
Obama Administration official said they "choked" when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn't want to hurt Hillary?— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1498337076.0
Trump was referring to a Washington Post report, which quoted a former Obama administration official as saying of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections, “It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” the official told the Post. “I feel like we sort of choked.”
On Sunday, Carter became the latest Obama administration official to speak out against the response. Bash noted that Carter was in the Situation Room when Obama was given information about the Russian meddling and she asked the former Pentagon chief directly, "why didn't he [Obama] act?"
The former secretary responded by saying that Obama did take "some actions" and that the department he oversaw "took a wide range of actions."
"To me, this was part of a pattern. To me, personally, this was part of a pattern with Vladimir Putin. But I don't think — I think it's quite clear that was not sufficient," Carter said.
"That's why it's so important to press the Russians now. If it were sufficient, Vladimir Putin's answer to our president wouldn't have been to cast doubt upon or ask for further intelligence from the United States," Carter added.
Trump reportedly confronted Putin for meddling in the U.S. election during a face-to-face meeting in Germany last week. Putin did not reveal details of the discussions during a news conference. Trump did not hold a news conference following his talks with the Russian president.
“I believe it would not be entirely appropriate on my part to disclose details of my discussion with Mr Trump. He asked, I answered him. He asked pointed questions, I answered them. It seemed to me that he was satisfied with those answers," Putin said, Reuters reported.
Bash pressed Carter Sunday on his statement that Obama's response was "not sufficient."
"Did President Obama make a mistake in not doing more?" Bash asked Carter.
"He took some steps, no question about it. But I think you see from Vladimir Putin's answer right now that more needs to be done," Carter said.
"Putin is not convinced that there are going to be consequences of a magnitude for Russia, as a consequence of interfering with the U.S. election that make it unwise for him to do it in the future. That hasn't been accomplished yet," Carter said, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter says President Obama’s actions on election hacking were “not sufficient” https://t.co/hCC34AIFz1
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 9, 2017