On the same day that WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange told Fox News that, contrary to the Obama administration’s claims, the Russian government was not the source for their leaked Democratic Party documents, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer said President Obama’s newfound adversarial stance and actions against Russia are “largely political,” intended to delegitimize President-elect Donald Trump. Krauthammer went as far as to suggest that Obama was looking to seek “revenge” on Trump for his prominent voice in the Team Hillary-originated “birther” movement.
Krauthammer’s comments came during a discussion with Special Report host Bret Baier about the future Trump administration’s claims that Obama’s retaliation against Russia is an obvious attempt to use the “Russia hacked the election” narrative to undermine Trump.
Team Trump, explained Baier, are “pointing to the Chinese hack of OPM where they took millions and millions of identification numbers, Social Security numbers of government employees” as evidence that Obama is acting completely inconsistently. While he has made a big show of publicly decrying Russia and announcing his administration’s retaliatory measures, he handled the serious China hack completely differently. As the New York Times put it at the time, “In public, Mr. Obama has said almost nothing and officials are under strict instructions from naming China as the source of that attack.”
“The Trump folks, Charles, are pointing to that, saying they chose not to say anything there, and yet here they are expelling diplomats and talking openly about it,” said Baier.
Krauthammer responded by saying he essentially agreed with Trump’s take, describing Obama’s actions as “largely political.”
“I think their case that this is largely political on the part of Obama is true,” answered Krauthammer, before making it clear that this “doesn’t mean that the Russians weren’t behind it and that the U.S. ought to make a strong response.”
Krauthammer argued that the Obama Administration has been soft on Russia and our political foes at large since the moment Obama stepped foot in office in 2008. Obama “appeased the Russians from day one,” he said, after acknowledging that the POTUS said nothing about the Chinese hacking our Office of Personnel Management.
“This is a president who has appeased the Russians from day one,” said Krauthammer. “He cancels the missile defense system as he comes into office, Obama did. He then lies down, does nothing about Syria, essentially nothing about Ukraine. Does nothing about all the trespasses of the Russians vis-a-vis the U.S. They learned about the hacking 18 months before today. They do nothing at a time when it would actually have an effect.”
According to Krauthammer, Obama’s sudden act to expel 35 Russian diplomats from the the United States in response to 18-month-old evidence of Russian hacking was clearly in effort to connect the Russians to the 2016 election results, a claim unsupported by evidence. In effect, this would undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s future presidency, just as Obama perceives Trump attempted to delegitimize him when pushing the claim that the Hawaii-native was actually born in Kenya, explained the pundit.
“[A]ll of a sudden with a month to go, he decides to do this,” said Krauthammer. “The timing and the severity of what he did is clearly — this is Obama’s revenge on Trump for the birther thing. Trump, he perceives, Obama perceives, tried to undermine his legitimacy. There’s no better way left for Obama to undermine the legitimacy of Trump than to apply — you’re absolutely right, there’s no connection to the actual election but most Americans think this is about the election, to imply that Trump won because of this. That’s what all of this is about and that’s why I think that Trump is right in protesting this.”
Though the “Trump people” may be correct in pointing out the motivations of Obama’s actions, suggested Krauthammer, the actions themselves may be warranted.
“Nonetheless, we as a country can’t take our example from Obama as he did for 18 months. We can’t let it go. And we should punish the Chinese and we should next time,” concluded Krauthammer.
Notes: This article has been expanded to provide more details. Transcript via Real Clear Politics.