Earnest: ‘Obviously’ Obama Admin’s Actions Against Russia ‘Didn’t Work as Well as We Hoped’

• April 20, 2018 9:31 am


Former Obama White House press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged Friday the administration's actions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 election didn't work as well as hoped.

MSNBC analyst John Heilemann spoke on "Morning Joe" about how former FBI Director James Comey is trying to explain his actions during the 2016 campaign.

"I think he [Comey] thought that if he had a chance to explain what he did in 2016, that people would credit that explanation. He believed it clearly. He did the things he did," Heilemann said. "He finds his explanation convincing. And I think he believed, like a lot of people in these situations—and people with less self-regard than he has, which is a lot—that he could go out and make the case for why what he did was acceptable and people broadly would accept it. I don't think that has been the case. There are a lot of other ways in which Comey is credited, but I think people, at least on the Democratic side … kind of go ‘nope I'm not buying that explaination.'"

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said President Barack Obama made the same calculation when it came to Russia.

"It's the same calculation Barack Obama made in taking it easy on Russia through the election, who I think has suffered from that less. Comey wasn't alone in making that bet," Smith said.

Earnest responded that he didn't think the Obama administration went "easy" on Russia.

"I think it is an accurate characterization to say that we went easy on Russia," Earnest said. "I think there was a calculation that was made about the most effective way to try to protect the country from their influence."

Earnest said the Obama administration's calculation, however, didn't work out as well as hoped.

"What I will acknowledge that I didn't [acknowledge] behind the podium is obviously it didn't work as well as we had hoped," Earnest said. "So I'm not suggesting it was perfect."

The Obama administration has been criticized by Republicans and by some former Clinton aides for his weakness towards Russia.