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 McDonoughObama: Bannon, Breitbart shifted media narrative in 'powerful direction' DNC chairman to teach at Brown University Trump mocked Obama for three chiefs of staff in three years 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 McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.), McDonough said.


Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Trump: Why didn't Obama 'do something about Russian meddling?' 2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states 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 TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA 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.