Chuck Todd: Mueller Indictment Contradicts McDonough's Claim That Obama's Warning to Putin Was 'Impactful'

March 4, 2018

NBC's "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd on Sunday pushed back against Barack Obama's former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough for his claim that Obama's warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin over election meddling was "impactful."

Todd asked McDonough about Sen. Mark Warner's (D., Va.) comment last July, acknowledging the Obama administration "choked" in its handling of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

"It became very clear to us what the Russians' intentions were, so we took a series of pains-taking steps, including the president directly confronting President Putin, us going to Congress to press them to work with us to make sure that the states were doing everything they could to protect the sanctity of every American's vote," McDonough said.

He said he believes the discussion between Obama and Putin was "very impactful," adding that some of the things they feared Russia would do, it didn't do.

Todd then played a clip of Obama from December 2016, recalling his direct conversation with Putin in September 2016 at the Group of 20 meeting in Hangzhou, China.

"I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out... and in fact we did not see further tampering of the election process," Obama said.

Todd pushed back against this claim and said that based on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's recent indictment of the Internet Research Agency, Obama's claim is "not true."

"We now know that that is not true. We know the troll farms were working, particularly there are specific references to October 16 of 2016, November 3," Todd said. "At the time they were putting the troll farms in Russia pushing and encouraging U.S. minority groups not to vote, things like that."

"We stand by our position that the things that we feared they may do in that spot, they did not," McDonough said.

McDonough was Obama's chief of staff during his entire second term in office.