Obama: Public’s “Obsession” Over Clinton Emails Diverted Attention from Russian Hacking

“None of this should be a big surprise. This was reported on before the election.”

President Barack Obama continued his media farewell tour over the weekend, appearing on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for a wide-ranging discussion on racism, Russian hacking operations, intelligence briefings, and more.

The interview, which aired on Monday, was conducted shortly after the Washington Post reported on a secret CIA assessment that concluded with “high confidence” that the Russians intervened in the presidential election to help Donald Trump get elected.

“What is it about our political ecosystem, what is it about the state of our democracy where the leaks of what were frankly not very interesting emails that didn’t have any explosive information in them, ended up being an obsession and the fact that the Russians were doing this, was not an obsession?” Obama responded when asked about the CIA report.

“The president-elect in some of his political events specifically said to the Russians, ‘Hack Hillary’s emails!’ so we that can finally find out what’s going on and confirm our conspiracy theories,” he continued. “You had what were very clear relationships between members of the president-elect’s campaign team and Russians and a professed shared view on a bunch of issues.” 

While the president didn’t specifically mention any names, it’s likely he was referring to former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, both of whom have close ties to Russia.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.