Obama, the Russians, and American elections

David Marcus of the Federalist turns the clock back seven years to add context to a current-day controversy.

Hot microphones are a hell of a thing. In 2012, speaking with Dmitry Medvedev, who was then president of our great rival Russia, President Obama said, “After my election I have more flexibility.” Medvedev responded that he would transmit this information to Vladimir. As in, you know, Putin.

Oh, what a time it was. Russia was great friend; we had pushed the Staples reset button and were looking towards the future.

Let’s break this down. “After the election we have more flexibility.” Huh. This sounds a lot like asking a foreign leader to play a role in an American election. Let’s go a step further: this was an election in which Obama mocked his opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, for criticizing Russia. Remember that? Remember the debate when Obama said “the 1980s wants its foreign policy back”? But now, suddenly Russia is our greatest foe again. Funny how things work out.

So what was the deal with that conversation that nobody was supposed to hear? What exactly was Obama asking for? Was he asking the Russian president to act in a way that would help him in his reelection? It sounds like it. Was that an impeachable offense — asking a foreign power for help in a campaign? Was that a request for foreign interference in our elections? Who can say, right?

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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