Russian Reporter: Does Obama Feel 'Any Responsibility' for US-Russia Relations, Racial Tension, Election Rejection...

Susan Jones | December 16, 2016 | 7:11am EST
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The frosty relationship between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin was on display at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June 2013. (AP File Photo)

( - A Russian reporter named Andre challenged President Obama's leadership Thursday, running down a list of problems that have worsened on Obama's watch, including relations with Russia and racial tensions in America. "Does he feel any responsibility for all this?" the reporter asked.

The answer to Andre's question was predictable. But the question itself was remarkable:

"I've always thought that President Obama is an extremely intelligent and decent person, well-meaning person, OK?" Andre told White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

"So my question come if he wanted the U.S.-Russian relations to be a win-win on both sides, we are now in a situation obviously where it is a lose-lose? No matter how we spin it, it's a lose-lose for both of us.

"But this is not the only one. America, in all the eight years, did not have one day where it was completely at peace. There was one war or another, and not all of those wars were inherited by President Obama. And he's a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"Then, he -- he's like the first African-American president. But the race relations in this country have become worse. Not better, worse. It's also, I -- you know, you say some things are facts. Those are allegations. But I cannot say that it's a fact. It's an impression I get, that they are worse. But many people share this -- this impression.

"Then hacking. America is all of a sudden vulnerable to hacking, after eight years of Obama leadership. How come?

"And of course, the biggest of all is the -- is out of the election. The leadership has been rejected. The preferred candidate has been rejected. So, my question -- to come to the question -- is who's at fault? Who is? Is it Russia that performed all that? Is it because of Russia that the voters in the U.S. rejected the leadership and the legacy?"

Earnest told Andre, "I disagree with your assessment about the outcome of the election, because I think there's ample evidence to indicate how strongly the American...people feel about and support President Obama personally and his legacy. President Obama's poll ratings are higher than they've been in quite some time, and certainly exceed -- or at least in the range of or exceed every other recent outgoing president. And I think that is a pretty clear indication of how strongly the American people do feel about his leadership.

"When it comes to the question about whether or not Russia is at fault for the outcome of the election, that's not a question for intelligence analysts. That is a question for political analysts, to evaluate why people voted the way that they did and how and why the outcome was so unexpected."

Andre told Earnest that wasn't his question: "The question was about the responsibility of the top executive in this country. Does he feel any responsibility for all this?"

"Well, I -- when you say 'for all of this,' can you be slightly more precise?" Earnest asked.

"All the wars, for the race relations, for the deterioration of relations with Russia," Andre said.

"OK," Earnest said. "Well, I disagree with your assessment of race relations, with regard to wars. President Obama is quite proud of the efforts that we -- that the United States, in close concert with our allies around the world -- with the steps that we have taken to strengthen our national security, to make the United States and our allies safer.

"The United States has actually been effective and forceful in taking on ISIL. It's actually Russia who has only had one operational gain on the ground inside of Syria against ISIL. It has had that -- that gain rolled back.

And in fact, the threat that is posed by ISIL is now worse because of Russia's failed strategy inside of Syria, because ISIL didn't just retake Palmyra, they retook Palmyra and all of the military equipment that the Assad regime, backed by Russia, had moved in there.

"You sound as if you welcome that," Andre said.

"I don't welcome that at all," Earnest said. "I'm gravely concerned about the danger that is -- that is now heightened because of Russia's failed strategy.

"And according to what my colleagues at the Pentagon are now saying, it's now U.S. service members, U.S. members of the military that are now going to have to go in and clean up the mess again that was created by Syria with the backing of -- of the Russians.

"And when you consider the president's record overall, the fact of the matter is, when you consider what he inherited -- President Obama walked into office, there were 180,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Today America is safer and there are only about 15,000 U.S. service members in those two countries. And that represents a substantial progress in enhancing our national security, but also of moving America off a permanent war footing."

"And that's why we have the results of the election," Andre said.

Earnest didn't respond, instead moving on to another reporter.

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