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 McDonoughFormer Obama officials willing to testify on McCabe's behalf: report Trailer shows first look at Annette Bening as Dianne Feinstein 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care 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 skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms Impeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill 'Saturday Night Live' presents Trump impeachment hearings with 'pizzazz' of soap opera MORE (R-Ky.), McDonough said.

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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report Biden says he won't legalize marijuana because it may be a 'gateway drug' Impeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP 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 TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report 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.