Ex-Obama chief of staff: Obama's Russia response was 'watered down'

A former White House chief of staff to former President Obama on Sunday said that the Obama administration’s response to Russian interference in the 2016 elections was "watered down."

Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughLive coverage: Justice IG testifies before House on report criticizing FBI Ex-Obama chief of staff: Obama's Russia response was 'watered down' Former Obama officials launch advocacy group aimed at Trump's foreign policy MORE told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that a few months before the 2016 election, the president asked the four party leaders to join the White House in drafting a statement to respond to Russia.

It was "dramatically watered down" on the insistence of now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Sen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ky.), McDonough said.

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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBernie Sanders socialism moves to Democratic mainstream Biden: Aretha Franklin was 'part of the soul of the civil rights movement' Biden to Trump: If you think revoking Brennan's clearance will silence him, 'you just don't know the man' MORE has in the past also blamed McConnell for weakening the bipartisan response Obama sought.

“So we went up and Mitch McConnell, who I get on with well and is a smart guy, Mitch McConnell wanted no part of having a bipartisan commitment that we would say, essentially, Russia is doing this — stop,” Biden said in January, CBS reported.

McConnell’s lack of cooperation, Biden said, kept him and Obama from speaking out publicly about Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE has criticized the Obama administration for not doing enough to stop Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

"Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?" he tweeted last month.