US President Donald Trump stepped up his criticism of former Democratic President Barack Obama's handling of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential campaign, accusing his predecessor of collusion and demanding an apology from investigators.
It is unclear who Mr Trump is claiming Mr Obama colluded with or what he obstructed.
- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2017.under a magnifying glass, they have zero "tapes" of T people colluding.
In that sense, perhaps one could make a speculative case for deliberate inaction, but that's hardly "collusion", or even "obstruction". "I should be given apology!" he added.
The president also had a pair of tweets on the subject over the weekend, arguing the Obama administration knew about "election meddling by Russian Federation", but "did nothing about it".More news: UK's May makes deal she needs to govern, but critics abound
Trump won an unexpected victory last November and has seen his administration plagued by swirling controversy stemming from Russia's campaign of cyberattacks against Democratic targets and investigations into whether the president's campaign or anyone associated with him colluded with the Kremlin on those attacks.
Wayne Fields, a Washington University professor who has studied political rhetoric, said Trump appeared to be co-opting terms like collusion and obstruction as part of a larger strategy to "invalidate" some of the arguments made against him. The day after Trump made that statement, he said in a Fox News interview "Of course I'm being sarcastic".
Obama anxious that any response before the election could "provoke an escalation" from Russian President Vladimir Putin or "be perceived as political interference in an already volatile campaign", according to the Post. He seemed to acknowledge Russia's meddling in a tweet storm last week.
The Washington Post said it wasn't until December 9 - a month after the election - that President Obama ordered a comprehensive review by USA intelligence agencies of Russian interference in US elections going back to 2008, with a plan to make some of the findings public. He wrote, "If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the Federal Bureau of Investigation!"
On Friday, The Washington Post reported that Obama knew about Russia's electronic hacking as early as August. "I think the idea was that you had Hillary Clinton with a secret server, that was very clear about what she had done to evade it, and I think that's probably a bigger concern right now in terms of what they were doing, and the lack of security that they had". All they do is delay and complain. "It's an fantastic thing", Trump continued.
The latter comment is notable because it comes as Senate Republicans could face a tough vote on a controversial measure crafted by the chamber's GOP leadership team that proposes to partially repeal and replace Barack Obama's 2010 health law.