Congressional committees in both the House and Senate have “an obligation” to call in former President Barack Obama to testify as to what his administration knew regarding Russia’s campaign to interfere in last year’s presidential election and when it became aware of those efforts, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday morning.
“Guess what’s about to happen: The Congress is about to have to call Barack Obama in to testify under oath about when he knew about Russia meddling,” Gingrich said on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.” “Who told him? Why did he do nothing? Who was in the meetings when he decided to do nothing? It’s going to turn out, yes, there’s a big Russian story. It’s Barack Obama. Not Donald Trump. And you cannot make this stuff up.”
Obama’s response to the Russian campaign of cyberattacks has come under increased scrutiny in recent days since the publication of a Washington Post report detailing how and when the former president became aware of the Kremlin’s efforts as well as what retaliatory steps were taken. Obama was first made aware of the Russian cyberattack campaign in August, according to the Post.
Denis McDonough, Obama’s White House chief of staff, defended his former boss’s handling of the attacks in an interview with the Post, but another, unnamed administration official said that the Obama administration had “choked” in dealing with Russia’s interference efforts.
President Donald Trump, consumed by controversy regarding the multiple ongoing Russia investigations, has sought to turn the tables on his political foes by working to shift attention away from probes into whether or not anyone associated with him colluded with the Kremlin and onto Obama’s handling of the cyberattack. Trump has accused his predecessor of willfully doing nothing to stop the Russians so as not to upset the 2016 campaign and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s perceived status as the likely winner.
While it took until December for the U.S. intelligence community to formally release a declassified report detailing that Russia had indeed sought to interfere in the 2016 election, and had done so with the aim of aiding Trump’s candidacy and harming Clinton’s, the White House had made public as far back as October that the Kremlin was behind the wave of cyberattacks against mostly Democratic targets.
But Gingrich said Tuesday that Congress must seek answers from Obama as to why he did not do more to stop the cyberattacks during the campaign.
“The Congress has an obligation to call him in. How can you be told the president of the United States knew last August the Russians were, in fact, involved in this and not ask him and ask him under oath? I mean, how can you be so irresponsible?” the former speaker said. “The House and Senate are going to have to call Obama in and say ‘who told you? When did you have the meetings? Who advised you? Why did you not decide to do anything? And then why did you keep quiet for six months while everybody looked at the Russians and Trump when you, in fact, had this information last August?’”