Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called out both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama for not speaking out sooner about the investigation into hacking during the 2016 presidential election.
“At the time, we could get the Obama administration to acknowledge the Russian interference,” Schiff said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” noting that the response was not “sufficient.”
“They were very wary to be seen as putting their hand on the scale of the election,” he added.
But he also said that doesn’t justify President Trump’s refusal to enact new sanctions against Russia last month.
“None of that is an excuse for this president to sit on his hands,” he said. “It is inexplicable for the president of the United States to sit on sanctions that Congress passed.”
“They can’t point the finger back when they’re sitting on sanctions that Congress on a very bipartisan basis imposed,” he added.
The CNN appearance aired two hours after Trump posted a series of morning tweets attacking Schiff and highlighting the congressman’s criticism of the previous president, which he first stated two days ago. In a signature taunt, he suggested that Schiff was casting blame on the Obama administration “as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election.”
The president’s tirade came two days after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities, outlining evidence that foreign actors meddled in the 2016 election and bolstered the campaigns of Trump’s and Bernie Sanders. The indictments could open the door to more charges.
Trump has previously made conflicting statements surrounding the charges of Russian interference, saying that Russia did interfere in the election, while also saying that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin when he denied interfering. Yet the president has maintained that his campaign did not collude with Russia and called Mueller’s probe “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”
He reiterated that claim on Sunday morning.