Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz developed an astonishing case of “Blame Obama, Forget McConnell” amnesia today after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivered his bombshell announcement that 13 Russian nationals had been indicted for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
From Mother Jones:
The indictment alleges that the Russians specifically sought to boost Trump while hurting his rivals. “By 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fictitious online personas to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” it states. “They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.” According to the indictment, “specialists”—as the Internet Research Agency’s social media operatives were known—were instructed, according to an internal document, to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them).”
So what’s a Fox propagandist to do, knowing that after more than one year in office, Donald Trump has done nothing to stop the meddling he was told about beforehand, but refused to accept? Why, blame Obama! (Obviously, blaming Clinton would not be a good fit for this particular episode of Trump TV.)
Shortly after Rosenstein’s announcement, Chaffetz appeared on Fox to give his analysis. After calling the indictments “very encouraging,” Chaffetz set about blaming Obama and (absolving Trump). For extra partisan points, Chaffetz gave a shout out to Trump lackey Devin Nunes who has been working to undermine the Russia investigation right along with pal Sean Hannity.
CHAFFETZ: I think a lot of people that were very concerned, even at a small level, that this was happening. [Republican House Intelligence Chairman] Devin Nunes has been talking about this for a couple of years. President Obama kind of pooh-poohed the idea that anybody could even interfere, but I think clearly there was — the more we’ve learned, particularly after the election, that yes, there were people that were improperly trying to manipulate the election, even if they weren’t successful.
What Chaffetz “forgot” is that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Obama's efforts to deal with the threat. From the December, 2016 Washington Post report on the CIA assessment that Russia had tried to help Trump win the election (with my emphases):
The Obama administration has been debating for months how to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions, with White House officials concerned about escalating tensions with Moscow and being accused of trying to boost Clinton’s campaign.
In September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present.
The Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided, with at least two GOP lawmakers reluctant to accede to the White House requests.
According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to believe that Chaffetz, one of the most powerful members of Congress at the time of the incident as well as the Post report, did not know about this.
Watch Chaffetz dissemble below, from the February 16, 2018 Outnumbered Overtime, via Think Progress.