Trump: ‘I Have Been Much Tougher on Russia Than Obama’

Donald Trump
Getty Images
• February 20, 2018 11:12 am

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his policy toward Russia has been "much tougher" than that of his White House predecessor, Barack Obama.

"I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts," Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump also appeared to chide the media for its coverage of his relationship with Moscow, adding, "Total Fake News!"

Trump's comments came after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on the CBS program "60 Minutes" that the Trump administration has taken actions to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. An interviewer asked the nation's top diplomat why the administration has not imposed new sanctions on Moscow after Congress passed legislation last year calling for such measures.

"We have and we are," Tillerson responded. "We've taken steps that have already prevented a number of Russian military sales as a result of the legislation, and we are evaluating additional individuals for possible sanctioning."

Last month, the State and Treasury departments did not impose sanctions on Russia that the legislation called for. They said the threat of sanctions had successfully disrupted and ended billions of dollars worth of deals in the Russian defense and intelligence sectors.

"Since the enactment of the CAATSA legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Jan. 29, using an acronym for the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Trump is not the only politician who has recently criticized how the Obama administration handled Russia's election meddling. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) said Friday that Trump's predecessor also bears some responsibility

"I do think though that, in fairness, some of the responsibility is also attributed to the Obama administration for not establishing a more forceful deterrent," Schiff said at the Council on Foreign Relations. "I think it goes back to the Korean hack of Sony in which there was a minimal response. I think that others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention."

Obama administration officials have also taken some heat in recent days for deriding Mitt Romney in 2012, when he was the Republican presidential nominee, for saying that Russia is America's "number one geopolitical foe."

"The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back," Obama said at the time of Romney's assessment.

Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to Obama, said earlier this month that the former president has no regrets for mocking his 2012 opponent.

"I don't know that he looks back and regrets what he said at the time," Jarrett said on ABC's "The View." "What's the point in—would we have done something differently? I don't think so."

Obama's comments resurfaced after reports indicated that Romney would launch a 2018 Senate bid in Utah. The former Massachusetts governor officially announced his candidacy last week.

Trump's tweet on Russia and Obama came four days after 13 Russian nationals and three companies were indicted for interfering in U.S. elections from 2014 through 2016. The indictment was a result of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and possible links between that effort and Trump's presidential campaign.