Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday that he is “frustrated” with the Obama administration’s lack of assertive action in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Blitzer asked Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, if he is unhappy that the administration did not “more assertively” react to the Russian-led cyber attacks against the U.S. electoral process.
“The whole notion of the intelligence community moving forward,” Blitzer said. “You are frustrated that the Obama administration did not react more assertively during the campaign to the Russian cyber attacks.”
“I was frustrated about it,” Schiff said.
Schiff then explained that he and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) took “extraordinary steps” to address the Russian hacks before the intelligence community said in October that the Russian government directed a campaign to influence and undermine the election.
“Sen. Feinstein and I, as you know, took the extraordinary step in September, the month before the intelligence community released their own attribution calling out the Russians on what they were doing,” he said. “I understand the reasons why the administration was hesitant. They didn’t want to be seen as putting their hand on the scale in the American election. They didn’t want to risk retaliation by the Russians.”
Schiff warned Blitzer that if the United States does not push back against Russia, the Kremlin will take it as a “green light” or “open door” that it can undermine the U.S. and not have repercussions for it.
“Nonetheless, our [inaudible] with the Russians is if you don’t push back hard, they view everything as an open door,” he said. “I was urging that we take a harder line on Ukraine years ago and provide them defensive weapons and urge the stronger support response when North Korea hacked Sony.”
“I think all of these things did contribute to a Russia that felt it had more of a green light than it should have,” Schiff said.