Clinton’s former campaign chair defends Obama response to Russian hacking
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman, John Podesta, went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a closed-door hearing with the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the election.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Podesta said he was asked "to come forward to give, to the best of my knowledge, what I knew about [the election interference] and I was happy to cooperate with the committee." He declined to discuss specifics from the session.
Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and counselor to President Barack Obama, was caught up in the cyberattacks that took place at the end of the presidential campaign.
His emails were hacked and posted online last fall by WikiLeaks, revealing the inner workings of Clinton’s campaign and political operation. The hack led to weeks of unflattering headlines for the campaign ahead of Election Day.
Asked about the Obama administration’s response to the Russian efforts to influence the election, Podesta said the administration was "dealing with unprecedented weaponization of fruits of Russian cyberactivity."
"I think they were trying to make the best judgments they could on behalf of the American people," he said of the Obama team.
U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of being behind the hack on Podesta and other hacking during the election.
Podesta’s comments come as President Trump has increasingly criticized Obama’s response to the Russian efforts to influence the election. After the Washington Post reported on the Obama administration’s internal deliberations about how to respond evidence of Russia meddling, Trump said in a Fox News interview that Obama "did nothing" about Russia.
The Obama administration’s response to the Russian meddling has come under some criticism. The administration repeatedly warned Russia against interfering in the election and made resources available to protect state election systems ahead of Election Day in 2016.
In December, after the election, Obama issued new sanctions against Russia and ejected alleged Russian operatives from the country.