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Clapper: Republicans Stood in the Way of Efforts to Warn U.S. About Russian Interference

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on New Day that Republican lawmakers stood in the way of efforts by President Barack Obama‘s administration to warn the U.S. about Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Clapper was responding to a New York Times review of Obama adviser Ben Rhodes‘ upcoming memoir, which revealed the former administration’s frustrations with Republicans over their refusal to issue a bipartisan statement warning of Russian election meddling.

From the Times:

Mr. Obama had authorized a statement to be issued by intelligence agency leaders a month before the election warning of Russian interference, but was thwarted from doing more because Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, refused to go along with a bipartisan statement.

Mr. Rhodes called Mr. McConnell’s refusal “staggeringly partisan and unpatriotic.” But Mr. Obama, whose Supreme Court nomination had been blocked by Mr. McConnell for months, seemed less surprised.

“What else did you expect from McConnell?” he asked. “He won’t even give us a hearing on Merrick Garland.”

“You were involved in all of this,” CNN’s John Berman said to Clapper on CNN. “Were there partisan roadblocks thrown into alerting the American people as to what was happening?”

“Yes there were,” Clapper said. “There was a great deal of discussion about a more robust reaction earlier.”

Clapper explained that President Obama himself was concerned, given candidate Trump’s whining that the election was “rigged” against him, that any statement would be seen as political.

Berman pointed out that Rhodes pins the blame squarely on Mitch McConnell. “Did the Republicans stand in the way?” he asked.

“Well the Republicans in general did,” Clapper said. “There was a great deal of reluctance on the part of the Republicans to join in on a bipartisan statement.”

Clapper noted that he and Jeh Johnson, former Homeland Security Secretary, issued a “pretty forthright statement about what the Russians were doing,” but it “got buried” as it was released the same day in October as the Access Hollywood tapes.

Watch above, via CNN.

[image via screengrab]

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