Politics

Obama Scales Back Russian Hacking Rhetoric

Outgoing president admits 'not necessarily profitable' to suggest Moscow tipped election outcome

President Obama seemed to throw cold water on the rampant hysteria emanating from Democratic politicians, the media, and even his own administration regarding the impact alleged Russian hacking may have had on President-Elect Donald Trump’s Election Day victory.

During an interview that aired Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked the outgoing president about the integrity of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and if the intelligence community’s reports of Russian interference cast significant doubt upon its results.

“I think the bottom line is … it’s not necessarily profitable to sort of try to untangle all the different factors that went into it.”

“You know, I think there are a lot of factors going into an election,” Obama said when asked directly about the hacking’s effect. “I think the bottom line is — is that Donald Trump is gonna be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America. And it’s not necessarily profitable to sort of try to untangle all the different factors that went into it.”

Ever since a December CIA report declared that Russia had instigated hacks into the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta’s email server, the Democrats flew into a tizzy and claimed the election outcome to be a farce. When the intelligence community released a findings report Friday stating that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election” and “developed a clear preference for President-Elect Trump,” the Left further cemented its disbelief in the election’s legitimate outcome.

Perhaps recognizing the damage done to his own legacy, the reputation of the nation, and the potential risks of encouraging Democrats to continue to ignore the factors that truly drove 2016’s outcome, Obama declined to fuel the Russian hysteria fire.

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Obama also admitted that he was wrong to dismiss 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s concerns about the threat Russia posed to the U.S. and to the world during one of their presidential debates. During that debate, Romney claimed that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” In response, Obama said, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because … the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

“I think back to 2012 when Mitt Romney talked about Russia being the No. 1 geostrategic threat, you kinda dismissed him in the second debate,” Stephanopoulos said.

“I did,” Obama admitted, adding, “I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation for cyberhacking and so forth to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating.”

Obama said the U.S. must remain “vigilant” and “understand this is something that Putin has been doing for quite some time in Europe, initially in the former satellite states where there are a lot of Russian speakers, but increasingly in Western democracies.”

When Stephanopoulos said the bottom line was “this time Vladimir Putin got what he wanted,” Obama again downplayed the role of the Russian meddling in the outcome.

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“Well — look, I — I think that what is true is that the Russians intended to meddle, and they meddled,” Obama said. “And it could be another country in the future. It could be another election where you know, the — the alignments between Republicans and Democrats are different than they were this time and — and — who a foreign country prefers.”

“And that’s why I hope that this does not continue to be viewed purely through a partisan lens,” Obama said. “We have to remind ourselves we’re on the same team. Vladimir Putin’s not on our team. If we get to a point where people in this country feel more affinity with a leader who is an adversary and view the United States and our way of life as a threat to him, then we’re gonna have bigger problems than just cyber hacking,” he added.

Toward the end of the interview, Obama even praised Trump as an “engaging and gregarious” person who may be able to offer “fresh eyes” to the presidency.

And instead of engaging in a bitter refusal to recognize Trump as their next president, Obama urged Democrats to respect democracy and “catch their breath, regain energy, re-energize themselves and then get back in the arena, and then we’ll make some more progress in the future.”

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