Barack Obama believes the CIA's revelation that Russia may have interfered in the US elections to help [Donald] Trump get elected is not as shocking as it is being played out to be.
In an interview with The Daily Show which aired on 12 December, the president told host Trevor Noah that the secret assessment by the US agency which revealed that Russians were involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee was not breaking news per say.
"None of this should be a big surprise. This was reported on before the election," Obama said. "I don't think there was any doubt among anybody in the media or among members of Congress as to who was being advantaged or disadvantaged by the political gossip that was being put out in drip, drip, drip fashion up to the election."
He opined that voters should have paid more attention to Russian involvement rather than the Clinton emails that were hacked. "What is it about the state of our democracy where the leaks of what were frankly not very interesting emails, that didn't have any explosive information in them, ended up being an obsession? And the fact that the Russians were doing this was not an obsession?"
Since the CIA assessment went public, Trump and his team dismissed the reports as being "ridiculous" and criticised the agency of having a history of releasing wrong information. However, Obama pointed out that Trump made very different remarks during his campaign.
"The president-elect in some of his political events, specifically said to the Russians, 'Hack Hillary's emails so that we can finally find out what's going on and confirm our conspiracy theories'," he told the Comedy Central host. "The real question that I think we all have to reflect on is what's happened to our political system where some emails that were hacked and released ended up being the overwhelming story and the constant source of coverage, breathless coverage that was depicted as somehow damning in all sorts of ways — when the truth of the matter was it was fairly routine stuff."
On the topic of Trump, Noah then questioned the president about his successor's decision not to receive daily intelligence briefings because he is "like a smart person" and only needs to be informed if "something should change".
"Well, I think the president-elect may say one thing and do another once he's here, because the truth of the matter is that it's a big, complicated world," Obama explained. "It doesn't matter how smart you are, you have to have the best information possible to make the best decisions possible."