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.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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