March 20, 2018

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Sessions, Oprah, Obama but not the Russians in Trump’s On-Going Twitter War

On February 20, 2018, DNC deputy communications director Adrienne Watson responded to a recent series of tweets by President Trump.  Last week’s Russian election meddling indictments renewed the debate about whether Obama did enough to counter Russian interference when he was in office.

After continued criticism about how he is handling Russia’s meddling in the 2016 Election, President Trump took to Twitter. Watson details Trump’s tweets from his attacks on Oprah, down to the Pennsylvania redistricting map. Trump’s tweets from last week and even today, included no mention of prevention of future Russian attacks on US elections, he did not condemn the Kremlin’s attack of the 2016-Presidential and he adamantly denies that the Mueller investigation will or has uncovered any unsavory connections between him and the Russians.

Trump Tweet Fox News Says Russia Has not dirt on Trump

Why Doesn’t Sessions Go After Obama for the Russian Meddling?

On February 21st Trump lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions,  asking why he isn’t investigating the Obama-administration for being weak in the face of Russian aggression.

Trump Tweet why didnt Sessions go after Obama

Pressuring Sessions to investigate Obama’s knowledge of Russian involvement is somewhat awkward because Session’s involvement with Russian government officials was investigated by the Department of Justice in March 2017.  Sessions stated during his confirmation hearing in January 2017, that he “did not have communications with the Russians.” It was later determined by the Justice Department that he met with Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak twice in the preceding 12 months.

Sessions clarified the apparent disharmony between his sworn confirmation testimony and the two meetings with the Russian ambassador by stating that he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.”

The President seemed to forget that Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation in June 2017.  “I recused myself not because of any asserted wrongdoing on my part during the campaign,” Sessions stated. “But because a Department of Justice regulation, 28 CFR 45.2, required it.”

What did the Obama Administration Know and When?

From the Mueller indictment, we now know that in 2015 the Russians purchased advertisements on social-media sites designed to influence public opinion, but it remains unclear whether the F.B.I. or any other intelligence agencies were aware of the purchases and other election interferences in real time.

By the summer of 2016, U.S. intelligence agencies had collected a “critical mass” of data about Russian efforts to intervene in the election. This prompted John Brennan, the then director of the C.I.A., to brief Obama and other top advisers in August about the threat.  But President Obama and his advisors didn’t learn of the extent of the Russian inference, including the use of fake personas online, or that the Russians were exploiting Facebook and other social-media sites until after the 2016 elections former administration officials said. “We knew some things, but didn’t have all the pieces,” a senior official said, referring to Obama's final weeks in office.

Who is Tougher on Russia?  It Depends on Who You Ask.

From the beginning, President Trump has vehemently denied that his campaign and administration had any knowledge of Russian meddling in the election.  As detailed in his tweets, he also continues to state that the current administration has been “tougher on Russia than Obama.”

Trump Tweet Im tougher on Russia than Obama

Although the President claims the Obama administration didn’t take proper actions against Russia, Obama did make strides towards imposing sanctions against Russia, with a major retaliatory measures coming after the 2016 Election, when the Obama Administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats accused of interfering  with the Presidential Election, sanctioning three companies and also closing two Russian diplomatic offices in the United States.

Trump has yet to impose sanctions against the Russians, after the overwhelming passage of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act by Congress last year. The sanctions were to take effect on January 29th.  The law gives the administration the power to target powerful Russian elites and companies and countries that do business with blacklisted Russian military and intelligence entities.  The administration also failed to meet a deadline to identify Russian entities and individuals which would be added to a sanctions list. Instead, the Administration published a list of 96 known prominent Russian Oligarchs, as noted on Twitter by Tom Parfitt Moscow Correspondent at The London Times.

Parfitt Tweet Russians added to list all from Forbes

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said February 14 that the Trump administration is "actively working" on imposing sanctions on Russia over its interference in the 2016 US election.  And on February 20th, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stated that Donald Trump "has done a number of things to put pressure on Russia and be tough on Russia." We’ll have to see what’s coming and maybe we’ll find out exactly what Trump has done to put pressure on Russia, monitor Twitter.

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About this Author


Alessandra de Faria works for the National Law Review, creating author profiles, uploading client articles, and law-firm events, to be uploaded to NLR’s website. Alessandra’s educational background and training is in the legal and marketing fields.

Alessandra previously worked with SEO-based content writing as a copywriter for US and UK-clients. She has knowledge in keyword usage, client-specific keywords, industry-keyword optimization, and avoiding over-optimization in content writing, to avoid client penalization on Google rankings. In her...

jennifer schaller National Law Review  attorney legal publisher and speaker on Law Firm SEO and Legal Thought Leadership
Managing Director

Jennifer Schaller, Esq. is the Managing Director and co-founder of the National Law Review on-line edition.  Prior to the National Law Review, Jennifer most recently served as in-house counsel / director at CNA Surety. She also served in various marketing and business development roles as a vice president of Aon Services Group.  Jennifer started her legal career in as an insurance coverage attorney with Smith Amundsen, LLC in Chicago, IL.

In 2016-17, Jennifer is serving as the Vice Chairman for the Chicago steering committee for the Legal Marketing Association and on the Women Rainmakers Committee of the Law Practice Division of the American Bar Association. 

Jennifer is admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing from Illinois State University, a Master’s Degree in Education from DePaul University and a Juris Doctorate from Chicago Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Media Mentions:

Thought Leadership Marketing With National Law Review’s Jennifer Schaller - Good2BSocial Podcast March 6, 2018

Low-Energy Losers and Tremendous Successes - Law Practice Today American Bar Assoc. February 14, 2017

Legal Media Limelight: Jennifer Schaller of the National Law Review - Law Dragon December 16, 2016 

Insurance To Publishing, Chicago Lawyer Takes The Leap Of Faith - CBS Chicago March 8, 2015 

Law School Cuts First Year Class Size - Commentary Tallahassee Democrat November 28, 2014