“When you detect an incoming attack, you have to take affirmative steps to make the attacker pay a price,” Kaine told MSNBC while discussing the potential for similar interference in the 2020 race. “The Obama administration didn’t do that in 2016, even though they were aware of the attack. They didn’t make Russia pay a price,”
Kaine was the running mate of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who was defeated by Republican Donald Trump. Clinton has repeatedly cited Russia’s actions as one of the causes of her defeat.
President Trump has repeatedly criticized his predecessor’s stance toward malevolent Russian activities, asserting at one point last year that Obama did “NOTHING, and had no intention of doing anything!”
The Obama Justice Department probed Russian meddling in an investigation that carried over into Trump’s first term and eventually concluded that Moscow attempted to influence U.S. elections, though no evidence was found that the Trump campaign had collaborated with Russian officials.
“What we were trying to do was let people know that this had taken place, so that if you started seeing some effect on the election, if you were trying to measure why this was happening and how you should consume the information that was being leaked, that you might want to take this into account,” Obama told reporters in 2016.
“And that was exactly how we should have handled it,” he added. Days later, the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats in connection with cyber-attacks during the campaign.
On Thursday, Kaine told MSNBC the U.S. “did make Russia pay a price in 2018 and that has a way of deterring attacks to some degree.”
Trump has repeatedly maintained he has been tougher on Russia than any of his predecessors. In March 2018, the U.S. expelled 60 Russian diplomats and ordered Moscow to close its Seattle consulate in response to the poisoning of a former spy and his daugher in the U.K.
Additional sanctions were imposed that August.