01:35 - Source: CNN
Schiff: Obama made a mistake with Russia

Story highlights

Schiff said he disagreed with Obama's handling of Russia's attempts to influence the election

He said Obama's decision was due to political factors

Washington CNN  — 

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee said Sunday he believed the Obama administration should have taken bolder action in response to intelligence reports about Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election.

“I think the Obama administration should have done a lot more when it became clear that not only was Russia intervening, but it was being directed at the highest levels of the Kremlin,” Rep. Adam Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The California Democrat said in the lead-up to the presidential election that both he and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, repeatedly pressed the administration to speak out about Russia’s activity. He said former President Barack Obama’s decision not to take action ahead of the election was a political calculation, and one he disagreed with at the time.

“The American people needed to know,” Schiff said.

Schiff and Feinstein issued a public statement in September 2016 accusing Russia of attempting to influence the election.

President Donald Trump has seized on a recent report from The Washington Post saying Obama knew as early as last August about the intelligence community’s assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in a cyber-campaign to disrupt and discredit the election in an effort to help Trump win.

“Obama administration official said they ‘choked’ when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?” Trump tweeted Saturday.

In the interview, Schiff said Trump shouldn’t criticize the Obama administration’s actions.

“For Donald Trump, who openly egged on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and celebrated every release of these stolen documents, to criticize Obama now is a bit like someone knowingly receiving stolen property blaming the police for not stopping the theft,” Schiff said.