Trump Falsely Claims That He Never Said Russia Didn’t Interfere In The 2016 Election
Donald Trump is now claiming that he had never denied that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. This is, of course, not true.
In his initial reaction to the indictment handed down Friday afternoon against 13 Russian nationals on charges related to what clearly seems to be a conscious and well-crafted campaign by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election, President Trump claimed exoneration by concentrating on the fact that the indictment does not allege any collusion between the named Defendants and the Trump campaign. As I stated in my post yesterday, while that statement is true, it ignores several key points about both the indictment and what we already know about Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation as well as the fact that there are likely to be more indictments as Mueller’s investigation continues. As I also noted, the indictment also demonstrates that Trump’s repeated previous claim that the entire Russia investigation was “Fake News,” denied, that it even happened, and has repeatedly ignored the words of his own national security and intelligence agency heads, all of whom are acknowledging both the reality of Russian interference in 2016 and warning that it is likely to happen against in 2018.
This morning, as he remains ensconced at his Mar-A-Lago estate, Trump claimed that he never said that Russia did not interfere in the election:
President Trump on Sunday claimed he never said Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 presidential race, noting the Russian “hoax” was that his campaign colluded with Russia.
“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer,’ ” Trump tweeted.
“The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”
His comments come after 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups were charged with multiple counts of attempting to interfere in the 2016 election.The indictment alleges the goal of the Russians was to support then-candidate Donald Trump and hurt his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Some of the Russians allegedly posed as Americans and communicated with “unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”
Trump in a tweet late Saturday said his national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, forgot something when he said in Munich the indictments show “incontrovertible” evidence of Russia’s election meddling.
“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” Trump tweeted.
Here are the relevant tweets from the President:
I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
The reality, of course, is quite different. Throughout the first year of his Presidency, and indeed right up until the indictment was handed down late on Friday, Trump continually denied the assertions made by his own advisers that the Russians did indeed interfere in the election, and he accepted the assurance of Vladimir Putin that his country did not interfere in the election as true. As Think Progress’s Josh Israel notes, the evidence for this is all over the place for anyone willing to look at.
Consider, for example, these selections that Israel found in Trump’s Twitter timeline:
The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2017
Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
It is the same Fake News Media that said there is “no path to victory for Trump” that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2017
As Israel goes on to note in his post, there are numerous other examples over the past year where Trump clearly claims that there was no Russian interference, or dismissed the reports as “Fake News”:
- In a piece published by Time Magazine in December 2016, Trump said “I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Anytime I do something, they say ‘oh, Russia interfered.'” He also said “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey. I believe that it could have been Russia and it could have been any one of many other people. Sources or even individuals.”
- In July 2017 during an interview with Reuters, the President talked about his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during which he claimed to have brought up the issue of Russian interference in the election. “First question – first 20, 25 minutes – I said, ‘Did you do it?’ He said, ‘No, I did not, absolutely not.’ I then asked him a second time, in a totally different way. He said, ‘Absolutely not.'” and “Somebody did say if he did do it, you wouldn’t have found out about it. Which is a very interesting point.”
- In November of last year, Trump again addressed what Putin had told him and dismissed the story. “He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times.” “I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election, he did not do what they are saying he did.” “Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says I didn’t do that. I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”
- Finally as recently as last week just days prior to the indictment being made public, Trump again was reported as saying he did not believe the reports of Russian interference in the election.
In addition to all these dismissals of reports and rather obvious evidence of Russian investigation, which can be found in the indictment handed down Friday, and in numerous other reports, many of which I’ve written about here at OTB, Trump has also engaged in a continuous effort to undermine the investigations into that interference by both Special Counsel Mueller and the relevant committees in the House and the Senate. These efforts began just over a year ago when the President implored James Comey, who was F.B.I. Director at the time, to end the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Two months later, Trump fired Comey just days after Comey testified about the bureau’s investigation of Russian election interference and the Trump campaign before a Senate committee. Several days later Trump admitted in a televised interview that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. These aren’t the only efforts the President engaged in over the course of the past year to undermine the investigations over the course of the past year. He also contacted the heads of the intelligence agencies and pressured them to bring the investigation to an end, implored Senators to end the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the Russia affair or at least publicly confirm that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, and participated in the drafting of a deliberately misleading White House statement regarding his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. Finally and most recently, there have been rumors that Trump has at least considered firing special counsel Robert Mueller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a means of undermining the investigation.
Given this clearly documented history, and more, Trump’s claim today that he never said that Russia didn’t interfere in the election, or that he never believed that they didn’t, is clearly false. Between his denials of the truth about what we knew about Russia’s activities and his efforts to undermine the subsequent investigation, the President is again revealed to be a liar. With pretty much any other President before him, this would be shocking. With Trump, it’s just another day ending in a y.