CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former Vice President Joe Biden defended the Obama administration’s handling of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, calling for sanctions on Moscow for the activities in the last cycle and the alleged efforts in 2020.
Biden, during Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, was asked about the Obama administration’s response to Russian election interference, and whether he would retaliate should Moscow meddle under his potential presidency.
“I would make them pay for it, and make them pay for it economically,” Biden said “They are engaged now, as I speak, in interfering in our election. They were engaged in 2016 — there’s no question.”
Biden was asked, specifically, about a bipartisan report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month, which determined that the Obama administration was “frozen” in combating Russian election interference in 2016.
“The idea the bipartisan committee said we could’ve done more, theoretically, that’s true,” Biden said. “But we didn’t have all of the information until the end.”
He added: “We should impose sanctions on Russia now.”
The report released earlier this month was the third volume of its five-part report on the committee’s years-long bipartisan investigation into Russian interference in the last presidential election.
The report stated that the Obama administration was “not well-postured” to counter Russian election interference activity.
“While high-level warnings were delivered to Russian officials, those warnings may or may not have tempered Moscow’s activity, and Russia continued disseminating stolen emails, conducting social media-based influence operations, and working to access state voting infrastructure through Election Day 2016,” the committee found.
The committee also found that the Obama administration was “constrained in its response by a number of external and internal concerns,” including the “highly politicized” environment and concern that public warnings could undermine confidence in the election. They also found that the administration’s decision to limit and delay information sharing about the foreign influence threat was a factor to the constraint.
The committee added that the administration seemed to treat cyber and geopolitical aspects of the Russian campaign as “separate issues,” saying that this approach “may have prevented the administration from understanding the full extent of the threat Russia posed, limited its ability to respond.”