Former Vice President Joe Biden claims that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked former President Barack Obama from warning the public about possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Biden made the claim at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations that McConnell refused to sign a bipartisan statement of condemnation.
Biden and Obama were forced to walk a tightrope, teetering between not saying enough and saying too little, and if they had known information that came to light immediately following the election, they likely would have done more.
Biden said it was clear to him that the “die had been cast,” and that McConnell saw it as a “political play,” rather than warning the American public that the Russians had seriously undermined the election.
“Mitch McConnell wanted no part of having a bipartisan commitment that we would say, essentially, ‘Russia is doing this. Stop.’ Bipartisan, so it couldn’t be used as a weapon against the Democratic nominee of a President trying to use the intelligence community.”
Biden explained that his fears appear to have been well-grounded, pointing out that attacking the intelligence community and portraying it as politically biased is exactly what the Trump administration has done anyway. Biden said:
“We went in and said, ‘Ok, look here’s all the data.’ And Brennan [Former CIA Director] and company came up and said, ‘Here’s what we know.’ Why don’t we put out a bipartisan warning to Russia –’Hands off, man, or there’s going to be a problem.’ Democrat and Republican –Well, they would have no part of it.”
Biden and Obama likely knew that if they said too much, it would be used against them by Republicans as evidence they were trying to make their own political play, undermining the legitimacy of the election in a way that could end up helping Russia cast doubt on democracy, as was part of their broader goal.
“Can you imagine if the president called a press conference in October, with this fella, Bannon, and company, and said, ‘Tell you what: Russians are trying to interfere in our elections and we have to do something about it.
“What do you think would have happened? Would things have gotten better, or would it further look like we were trying to delegitimize the electoral process, because of our opponent?”
Biden recalled that he and Obama were exasperated by the situation.
“The president and I would sit there literally after the [presidential daily briefing], after everyone had left the room, and say, ‘What the hell are we going to do?’” Biden recalled.
Apparently, Biden is still being approached by foreign leaders around the world, who want his advice on how to deal with Trump, who has so far done nothing to prevent more Russian interference in American elections.
“The questions across the board range from, ‘What the hell’s going on, Joe?’ he said, ‘What advice do you have for me?’”
Biden has made it clear, Donald Trump degrades the office of the President.
It’s not how a president should speak. It’s not how a president should behave. Most of all, it’s not what a president should believe. We’re better than this.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 12, 2018
Biden is remaining active in his role of standing up to the Kremlin now, writing about:
“…The steps we need to take to defend our democracy.”
I'm going to keep speaking out on the importance of standing up to the Kremlin through my work @PennBiden. My colleague @mikercarpenter and I have written in @ForeignAffairs about the steps we need to take to defend our democracy. https://t.co/o2b9Do0nTf
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 6, 2017
Meanwhile, McConnell seems to have exploited the chaos of the Trump presidency to his own political advantage by stacking the courts with far-right conservatives, continuing his endless assault on affordable health care, and ensuring that wealthy Republican donors receive their payback through a tax plan written expressly to favor them.
See the video of Biden below: