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Quora: Why Didn't Obama Share Russia Info?

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Former President Barack Obama waves after speaking at the Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan on May 9. Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama are on a six-day vacation in Italy this week. Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

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Answer from Charlotte Lang:

Now that we know that Obama knew about Russian meddling in our election over a year ago, why didn't he say anything or try to stop it? To me this is the classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

But Obama made the right call here, as he usually does, and if people on both sides would stop and think a bit, they’d be able to see why.

Think about it a little bit.

Obama and Hilary are friendly, and Clinton used to work for Obama. They are both Democrats and it’s no secret that there is no love lost between Obama and the Republicans.

Obama gets information showing that the Russians are meddling in the elections to slant the election away from Hilary and toward Trump, and that the Trump team is possibly complicit in this.

So, let me ask you this simple question:

Do you believe for two minutes that a Democratic president who has had issues with the Republican party and is friendly with the Democratic nominee could possibly get away with announcing that the Republican party is benefiting from the actions of the Russians, a country that is our adversary, and not be accused of doing something unethical or unfair?

Look at all the hollering that took place when Comey stated that the FBI was conducting the investigation into additional emails they found on Huma Abedin’s server. Comey was pilloried for making it sound as though Clinton was still under criminal investigation when it turned out to be nothing. Of course, by the time Comey did affirm that it was a nothingburger, it was too late, Clinton didn’t have enough time to build back the loss in support she suffered because of the announcement. To this day, people are convinced that announcement flipped the election to Trump (and I personally believe that it was a factor in her defeat).

If Obama had come out with what he knew, it would have been seen as a partisan move, and would either have been condemned by the Republicans or it would have been ignored and seen as another example of partisanship.

Obama, being a man who actually thinks things through before he decides to do anything, surely thought this out, and chose the best of two bad options. He chose to not publicly reveal it in order to maintain neutrality. He understood that whatever he did had the weight of the White House behind it, and throwing the election to either party would have disgraced the office.

Had he said anything, and Trump had lost the election, the following would have happened:

  • Obama would have been blamed 100% for the loss. Certainly that is a legacy that nobody wants - to have been the reason for a Presidential race to have the outcome it did.
  • The image of the White House and the Presidency would have been damaged. An act like that would reduce the White House to an organ of a political party. Obama had respect for the office. He knew that he had to keep the White House and the Presidency above the fray. If the White House was going to be sullied in such a way, it would not be on his watch.
  • The loss would have increased the bad blood between conservatives (who are primed to blame Obama for every bad thing that happens anyway) and liberals. As bad as the hate is now, I think the very perception that Obama may have tilted the election to Hilary would have gotten under the skin of even the most moderate Republican. It wouldn’t have just been the nutty right wingers that would have been angry, anyone with an R next to his or her name would have gone into a fit of rage and basically poisoned the political atmosphere more than it already is.
  • The uproar would have tainted Hilary’s victory and made it damn near impossible for her to accomplish anything while President, especially with a Republican congress. She would have had a hard time anyway, but the public reaction and the conservative media would have savaged her and painted her as an illegitimate President. She would have been a dead woman walking for four years with a Congress that would have had the knives out for her for any trivial thing.

No. Obama did the right thing here. Trump is now President, it is possible that members of his team worked with the Russians, and now the investigation is going according to how it should go, by an independent prosecutor who will gather and analyze the situation, render a verdict, and a Congress controlled entirely by Republicans will have the responsibility of dealing with it.

If it turns out Trump is dirty and the Republicans do nothing, it will be clear that Republicans are party first, and the nation second, and they will suffer for that. If it turns out Trump is clean, then nobody gets hurt, and Obama will have had no hand in any conclusions reached or actions taken/not taken.

Now that we know that Obama knew about Russian meddling in our election over a year ago, why didn't he say anything or try to stop it? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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