Sen. Joe Manchin: Russia is not our ally, not our friend

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said that as the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election continue, it's important to note that Russia is not an ally.

"Russia is not our friend. And to treat Putin as an ally and a friend is wrong. I don't look at him as a friend. I don't look at Russia. And I am very skeptical of what they're doing, their intentions. There are a lot of good people in Russia that don't have any say whatsoever," Manchin said on "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

Manchin's comments come in the wake of a Washington Post report that detailed the Obama administration's approach to punishing the Russian government for its hacking and influence campaign intended to politically damage Hillary Clinton and swing the election in Donald Trump's favor.

President Trump addressed those reports on Twitter, appearing to acknowledge that Russia did indeed meddle in the election, but placing blame on the Obama administration for not doing enough to counter Russia's impact.

In a tweet Friday night, Mr. Trump wrote that Mr. Obama "knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia" and "did nothing about it."

The tweets came after Mr. Trump expressed similar criticism of his predecessor in an interview with Fox News.

"I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it," Mr. Trump said in the interview broadcast Sunday. "But nobody wants to talk about that."

"What was known back in August and once it was verified and cross-checked should have been made public. It should have been made public, OK? That wasn't done. I can't second-guess that. But I know that when-- at that time President Obama and his administration took action," said Manchin.

He added, "They took action basically on December the 29th and closed down two compounds, threw out 35 diplomats. We knew there was a serious problem. And it was verified."

Manchin applauded the work by the Senate in passing a bipartisan measure to impose further sanctions against the Russians, saying "we've got to make sure that we put the hurt on the oligarchs, all the money, the way the money flows through Russia, and the people that benefit by it."

Manchin, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says he continues to feel confident in the U.S. intelligence community.

"When they come and tell me something, whether it's the CIA., FBI., NSA., I take it as gospel truth because they're doing their job. And they have cross-checked it before they give it to us. I have never detected one ounce of politicism," said Manchin. 

He added, "I don't know why there's so much skepticism, not believing what the intelligence community is telling you. I do, and I have found it to be extremely beneficial to me to make decisions with."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital