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 McDonoughVeteran suicides dropped to lowest level in 12 years Veterans grapple with new Afghanistan: 'Was my service worth it?' VA adds 245K more employees to vaccine mandate 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 McConnellHouse to act on debt ceiling next week White House warns GOP of serious consequences on debt ceiling Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees MORE (R-Ky.), McDonough said.

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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes 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 TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal 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.