Kaine Takes Shot at Obama Over Failure to Protect 2016 Election

July 16, 2020

Virginia senator and former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine (D.) slammed the Obama administration for its failure to respond to Russian interference during the 2016 election.

"Our [Department of Defense] did a very good job of repelling foreign attacks on the 2018 election... When you detect an incoming attack, you have to take affirmative steps to make the attacker pay a price," he told MSNBC anchor Ayman Mohyeldin. "The Obama administration didn't do that in 2016, even though they were aware of the attack. They didn't make Russia pay a price."

Kaine joined Hillary Clinton's ill-fated presidential ticket in 2016, and both have made much of Russian meddling in the race, with Clinton maintaining the Russians played a critical role in the Democrats' defeat. A February Senate Intelligence Committee report found that the Obama administration conducted an insufficient response to Russian interference activities.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) criticized the Obama administration for not being more transparent with lawmakers and the public about the extent of Russian activity in an addendum to the committee's report.

"Instead, at a moment when the country’s democracy was under direct attack and the administration was hoping for support from Congress, it refused to engage the congressional intelligence committees," Wyden wrote.

Kaine told MSNBC he was "very concerned" about election security following Wednesday's hack of Twitter that affected several major accounts with a Bitcoin scam. He said the the Defense Department's deterrence of Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections can help deter future attacks.

Twitter described the hack as "a co-ordinated social-engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools." The hack has raised concerns about the security of social media platforms as the 2020 election approaches.