WASHINGTON (AP) — By its nature, the special counsel investigation of Russian activities in the U.S. election is casting a wide net in its search for malfeasance. At the same time, it’s not a leaky enterprise — little is coming to light except what the prosecutor, Robert Mueller wants out.
That hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump from seeming to presume where it’s going, and not going, and what it’s coming up with.
So it was again Wednesday in his latest tweet crying foul about the probe, which he said should be looking into the Obama administration’s actions during and after the campaign.
TRUMP tweet: “Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!”
THE FACTS: The Mueller investigation is a wide-ranging probe of Russian interference and could go anywhere, conceivably reaching figures from the Obama administration if they become relevant. But no evidence has emerged of Democrats potentially being in cahoots with Russia during the campaign. Trump associates are under scrutiny because they are known to have had contacts with Russian interests.
Russians promoted Trump and disparaged Democrat Hillary Clinton in propaganda and field operations in the U.S. as part of a broader effort to subvert the 2016 election, according to Mueller’s indictment last week of 13 Russians. Additionally, it became known in 2016 that Russians hacked the email accounts of Democrats.
Trump has already claimed the investigation has vindicated him on the question of whether his team colluded with Russia. But that matter is not settled.
No collusion charges have been brought, and the indictment last week did not accuse Trump associates of knowingly being part of Russian machinations. But the investigation is not complete. To date four men who were Trump aides in the campaign or White House or both have been charged, with two of them pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about their foreign contacts.
Trump’s tweet also repeats his recent assertions that President Barack Obama did little or nothing to respond to Russia’s subversive activities. It’s arguable whether he did enough — even some Democrats say Obama should have taken the threat more seriously.
But, unlike Trump, Obama swiftly concluded Russians were making trouble and took a series of distinct if limited steps, at a time when much less was known about what Russia was doing. After the election, he expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of being intelligence officers and seized two Russian country estates, in Maryland and New York, which the State Department said were used for intelligence activities.
In contrast, the Trump administration, despite now-pervasive evidence of Russian interference, has held out the threat of sanctions, but not acted on it, while the president has equivocated since the 2016 campaign on whether he believes Moscow meddled at all.
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Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Chad Day contributed to this report.