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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 McDonoughThe swamp wasn't drained — it expanded Susan Rice calls for Flynn-Kislyak transcripts to be released GOP seeks to go on offense using Flynn against Biden 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 McConnellSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Trump looms over Ernst's tough reelection fight in Iowa Democratic senator votes against advancing Amy Coney Barrett nomination while wearing RBG mask MORE (R-Ky.), McDonough said.

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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' 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 TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' 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.