Trump Still Won’t Acknowledge The Reality Of Russian Interference In The 2016 Campaign

Even with yesterday's indictments, President Trump still won't acknowledge reality even though it's staring him in the face.

Within about an hour after Special  Counsel Robert Mueller released his latest indictment in the ongoing investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Campaign, President Trump was taking to Twitter to claim exoneration by this latest development. Specifically, in a tweet posted late yesterday afternoon, Trump acknowledged the indictment and proceeded to argue that it proves that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians and that the Russian impact didn’t have an impact on the election results:

Amusingly enough, this tweet comes just under a year after Trump said this about the investigation, at a time before Robert Mueller was appointed to head the investigation:

Trump continued to use his Twitter account to push this idea later in the day:

As I noted in my post yesterday afternoon regarding the indictments, the truth is that the indictment does no such thing. Instead, it opens the door to far more questions than it answers and seems to demonstrate quite clearly that Mueller’s investigation is far from over. In fact, it seems clear that what we’re seeing here is, at the most, the beginning of the end of the behind the scenes work that Mueller and his team have been doing and the slow transition into a more public phase of the investigation that is likely to include further legal developments, witness interviews, and other steps that will likely last for a considerable period of time. That conclusion is based on a number of facts that can be adduced just by looking at the indictment and the public statements made about it.

First of all, of course, there’s the fact that the focus of this indictment is clearly focused solely on one aspect of what is likely a multi-pronged and multi-faceted campaign that Russian authorities engaged in to disrupt the American political process. Primarily, of course, it is focused on the efforts to utilize social media and contacts with individuals who supported specific candidates in the race but weren’t necessarily connected with those campaigns. Toward that end, the named Defendants are alleged to have utilized information obtained via travels they made around the United States under false pretenses to gather information and make contacts that would later prove useful in a widespread effort to exploit the divisions in American politics to advance their agenda that included both spreading misinformation and propaganda promoting one candidate or the other on social media and using social media to persuade others, mostly unwittingly but perhaps in some cases wittingly, do the same.

What’s missing from this indictment is any mention of other activities that we already know Russia utilized in support of what was clearly a widespread, well-organized campaign. There’s no mention in the indictment of any electronic hacking that may have been done in support of the Russian operation. Past reports from the nation’s top intelligence agencies have implicated Russians or Russian-backed hackers for the incidents that led to the release of thousands of emails from both the Democratic National Committee and Clinton confidante Tony Podesta, most of which to have clearly been released in a purposeful manner that was designed both to undermine the Clinton campaign and to create chaos within both the race for the Democratic nomination, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and in the General Election race between Clinton and President Trump. Based on those reports, it appears that the Russian operation depended for this part of its campaign primarily on the apparently unwitting assistance of hackers around the globe and on Wikileaks, which was the source for the release of many of the DNC emails that were made public during the course of the campaign. The fact that these elements of the campaign were not mentioned in the indictment doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen, or that Mueller and his team of investigators have not been looking into them. At most all it means that the Defendants named in the indictment were responsible for just one discrete aspect of the Russian operation, meaning that the other aspects were likely being handled by other actors and parties that we have yet to learn about.

Added to all of this is the fact that, during his brief press statement announcing the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was clear to differentiate between the issues covered in this indictment from those covered by past indictments such as those against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, and the plea agreements entered into by former Trump associates George Papadopoulos and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Instead, Rosenstein was careful to state that the issue of collusion was not alleged in this specific indictment. He didn’t say that there was no collusion, nor did he have any comment on the issue of potential obstruction of justice, which is also now clearly a subject matter that Mueller’s investigation is looking into.

So, far from indicating that the Russia investigation is nearly an end, or even at the beginning to an end, it’s clear that, at best, we’re at what could probably be called the end of the beginning. There’s likely to be much more to come, and it doesn’t seem like any of it is going to be good for the Trump Administration. President Trump may be refusing to acknowledge this reality, but that doesn’t make it any less real.’

Update: The post was updated to include the President’s afternoon tweets, which were posted while this post was being written.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Intelligence, National Security, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mister Bluster says:

    Tillerson was right. Trump is a moron.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Trump is denying reality. Hoocudanode.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Trump isn’t refusing to acknowledge reality, he’s lying. From Day 1 Trump has acted in ways perfectly consistent with awareness of guilt. He knows he’s been kept afloat by Russian mob money. He knows Putin has his balls in his pocket. He’s lying for the suckers, the cult. His own National Security Advisor calls Russian meddling is “incontrovertible.” His own Sec State agrees.

    But it doesn’t stop there, because Republicans also know he’s guilty, that’s why they’re engaged in a cover-up. And even the Trumpaloons know it in their hearts. Notice how our friend @MBunge didn’t try to address any of this, doesn’t try to square last week’s lies with this week’s lies? They ALL KNOW.

    This was just the desperate line-of-the-day to be discarded in a few weeks with the next big Mueller reveal, at which point they’ll rewrite the lies. Before we are done we will see United States Senators and Congressmen and of course the trolls, all proclaiming that a president can’t commit treason because he’s president. I promise you we will reach the point of Republicans pooh-poohing actual treason. They have neither moral nor intellectual integrity and would excuse Trump raping a child on the White House steps. Cults of personality are like that.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster: He’s not a moron. Maybe a little past his sell by date, definitely narcissistic, maybe sociopathic, possibly semi-literate, but not a moron. Guilty as sin, but not a moron.

  5. de stijl says:

    The second leg of the Trump defense seems to coalescing around: “Me, my campaign, and my transition team were too stupid to *actively* collude with the Russians. We were useful idiots to the Russians.”

    It as a prophylactic inoculation to undercut any future indictments that cut closer to the bone.

    He can’t go to his favorite tactic from the past which is to declare bankruptcy and have everyone sign an NDA.

  6. JKB says:

    Why didn’t Mueller, et al, charge the Russians with meddling in the election, which is a crime for a foreign national to do?

    From John Hinderaker at Powerline:

    Its very first paragraph recites that it is against the law for foreign nationals to spend money to influence US elections, or for agents of foreign countries to engage in political activities without registering. But no one is charged with these crimes. Instead, the indictment is devoted mostly to charging a “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” Normally, that would refer to defrauding the U.S. out of, say, $10,000 in Medicare benefits. Its application to the 2016 election seems dubious. Beyond that, the indictment charges relatively minor offenses: bank fraud (opening accounts in false names) and identity theft.

    Could it be, as Hinderaker points out, that that might raise question as to why Chris Steele, a foreign national and “former” foreign intelligence agent, is not charged with interfering in the election. He not only collected “dirt” but also “leaked” it to selected media outlets. Of course, if Steele is charged that would raise the question as to why those who solicited and paid for his interference are not charged under the statute. And that latter could sweep up the DNC, all the way to possibly Hillary herself?

    It would all hinge on lawyering out the Steele “contribution” into something that doesn’t violate the statute. Perhaps he did nothing in excess of what he was paid for that could qualify as a contribution in kind, but then he did contribute what he learned to the US media to be reported in a manner to influence the election.

    With this looming, we can see why Mueller’s partisan prosecutors did not charge even as they state a violation and why Trump is doing Democrats a favor by not officially acknowledging the uncharged crime.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    The reason I bang on about character (in the literary sense) is that pundits tend not to look where I look, which is at the motivations, the needs, the fears, the composition of the character. Trump isn’t just easy to understand, he’s got the depth of a Hanna Barbara cartoon. Trump acts the way he does because he is a character with embarrassingly obvious weaknesses and a few core strengths. He is a needy, insecure, weak man who has ‘succeeded’ his way right into a meat grinder. Nothing he does is at all surprising, all of it will be consistent with a frightened, guilty man trying to bluff his way past the cops.

  8. de stijl says:

    Bernie and Jill Stein should be putting out statements right now stating they are appalled at any Russian attempts to influence the election at all, let alone any efforts that benefited them.

    Well, Bernie, at least.

    Stein used to have a paid gig on RT and was at the same table as Michael Flynn and Putin in the famous photo, so who knows what happened behind the scenes there.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    That might almost make a tiny bit of sense. If. If this was the LAST indictment. But, see, if it’s just one of dozens, nothing from your echo chamber means anything at all. Right? Right.

    The people you read are dishonest and rather stupid, as stupid as Trump himself. You can go on repeating that stupidity like a good little bot or you can open your eyes. Up to you.

  10. MBunge says:

    Just to be clear amidst this rampant goalpost-moving, if all the Russians did was attempt to disrupt the 2016 elections than the only scandal connected to that activity would be the failure of the Obama Administration to do something about it. And what Donald Trump is responding to are the frenzied cries of “Collusion!” and desperate public fantasies that Russian activity affected the 2016 vote. We now have official statements and declarations from the very people investigating the matter that there was no collusion and no impact on the election.

    When nobody knows anything, it may be childish to indulge in self-serving delusions about how right you are and how wrong everybody else is but it is also very human. When specific information comes out that CLEARLY contradicts your delusions and you don’t just ignore it but actually try to pretend it supports your delusions, you cross a very important line. You’ve stopped being a thinking individual and become a fanatic.

    Fanatics cannot reason or be reasoned with. They cannot persuade or be persuaded. Ultimately, fanatics can only deal in and be dealt with by force.

    Now, perhaps future information will fulfill the wildest hopes and dreams of Doug Mataconis. If it doesn’t happen, you had all better start seriously considering how you are going to respond to that. If it is going to be like this, you are not going to like where that leads.


  11. al-Ameda says:


    Now, perhaps future information will fulfill the wildest hopes and dreams of Doug Mataconis. If it doesn’t happen, you had all better start seriously considering how you are going to respond to that. If it is going to be like this, you are not going to like where that leads.

    This not a matter of what Doug’s “wildest hopes and dreams” are, rather , it’s a matter of exactly what Trump and his circle of advisors and associates even the hapless Donald Trump Jr., did to collude, conspire with, or otherwise assist the effort of Russians to materially affect the results of our presidential election.

    By the way, it could get really interesting if, before Trump can derail the investigation, Mueller goes deep into the financial ‘business’ relationship between Trump, Russians, and recent money laundering operations at Deutschebank. That’s where Trump has credit lines of $100 of millions of dollars, and where Russia has laundered significant sums of monies bound for London and elsewhere. It’s long been suspected that Trump is in on Russian money laundering – we’ll see.

    I can’t speak for Doug on this, but, I do hope that Trump is tied to Russian money laundering. Is this my wildest hope and dream? No, really, it’s just a prosaic little garden-variety request to the karma department of the universe.

  12. Terrye Cravens says:

    @JKB: I stopped reading Hinderacker years ago. He is a hack…and this obsession you people have with Steele is bizarre. He did his job, that is more than can be said for the GOP Congress who sat back and kissed Trump’s fat ass.

  13. reid says:

    @MBunge: The log in your eye is astonishingly large.

  14. JK Brown says:

    @Terrye Cravens: He did his job,

    A foreign national, a “retired” member of a foreign intelligence service, “did his job”. What job was that? Was it to influence the US election? His animosity to Trump is documented. His providing aid and contribution to a partisan political campaign during the US election is documented. Is British interference in US elections better than Russian interference?

  15. JohnMcC says:

    What a fascinating ability to manufacture fiction we have. There is a mythical African Kingdom that escaped colonialism because of high technology and great statesmen and we have an America where there are ‘frenzied cries of ‘Collusion!’ and desperate public fantasies’ that Russian advertising might have had some success.

    What imagination! There’s even a place where ‘official statements and declarations’ would completely exonerate everyone! Nobody did nuthin’! Ever! The FBI joins the mothers of the whole administration — they’re GOOD boys!

    And colonies on Mars. Why not?

  16. CSK says:


    I agree Trump isn’t a moron–at least not in the literal meaning of the word, which is someone who’s mildly mentally retarded–but his pathological narcissism causes him to behave as if he were one. He not only lies to everyone in his ceaseless quest for self-aggrandizement, he lies to himself. And his lies change on a daily–sometimes hourly–basis to deny objective reality. Truth, to Trump, is whatever he wants it to be at any given moment.

  17. wr says:

    @JKB: Wow. If you have to make yourself this stupid to pretend this isn’t a huge blow against Trump it’s even worse than I thought…

  18. Gustopher says:

    Trump denies because the reasonable reaction to Russian interference in our elections is to investigate, and he has something to hide.

    His campaign was chock full of Russian sympathizers and bad actors. His own finances are tied into Russian banks and oligarchs. And he has a tendency to pay hush money to the women he was screwing behind Melania’s back.

    Did he collude with the Russians? Did people on his staff? Were they used by Russian intelligence? Does he just want to keep the payments to bimbos #3-30 under wraps?

    I don’t think anyone knows… yet.

    But, in their rush to protect their compromised President, the Trumpleteers are also willing to bury investigations into the methods and effectiveness of the Russian interference. They are allowing their party loyalty and their fealty to the Drumph l’Orange to trump their patriotism.

  19. Terrye Cravens says:

    @JK Brown: Yes, Steele did his job. He was hired to do opposition research on a candidate and the company that hired him is based in Washington DC not Saint Petersburg. He was not the one who broke any laws. In fact, he showed more concern for the integrity of our electoral system than Trump and his minions ever have. In fact, his attitude toward Trump had a lot to do with the things he dug up on Trump. He went to the FBI because he felt there was a crime in progress.

  20. Mikey says:

    @JK Brown: So you’re saying bog-simple opposition research, which literally every major political campaign has done, is the same as a foreign nation’s sophisticated effort to influence a Presidential election? Seriously? You Trumpists are completely ludicrous.

  21. Tyrell says:

    “Mueller clears Trump!” (Vox)
    Also – “Seeking the Truth” (You Tube)
    “World Broadcast”(You Tube)
    Mueller says no Americans involved: Russian interference pre-dates 2016 campaign by years!

  22. Kari Q says:


    I take it this is this your fantasy wish list for future headlines?

  23. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Tyrell: That’s a joke, right?

  24. de stijl says:


    “World Broadcast”(You Tube)

    World Destruction – John Lydon, Afrika Bambaataa (1984)

    Also on YouTube. Mine’s waay better!

  25. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MBunge: I can’t speak for anyone else here, but whatever the outcome of the investigation, my conscience, character, honor, and sense of justice will be fine because I’ve never cared about whether Trump was honest, in the bag to Putin, a useful idiot, or a co-conspirator of any kind–indicted or unindicted. My objection to Trump has always been that he is a mediocre businessman, a hateful zealot, a buffoon, and would be incredibly underweight punching as President of the United States.

    And you know what, he will still be all of those things regardless of what Mueller discovers or doesn’t discover. He was a mistake when he won the GOP nomination, still a mistake when Nimrods like you voted for him for President, is currently showing that he is a mistake as he accomplishes almost nothing from what you guys say is his agenda–which I think is imaginary, and will still be a mistake if he should run again. That you will probably compound the mistake by voting for him again is of no particular consequence to me as I am fairly old and in only so-so health.

    Enjoy your mistake. Revel in it. Take your tiny ferret-like brain on imaginary trips to the new, great, white America you imagine you’re going to end up in. Do whatever floats your boat. But most of all, own your mistake.

  26. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @JKB: I gotta tell ya, part of the reason that your schtick doesn’t resonate very well here is because, at least from what I can piece together from various people’s backstories, most of us seem to have been political Conservatives at some point in our pasts. That makes perfect sense to me because I remember the old-time Radical Left. In fact, I haven’t seen the type of lunacy that occupies feral minds like yours since the 6os with the exception of the brief moment when one of my liberal acquaintances told me that she found the fact that GHW Bush was Vice President to be chilling because she was sure that he would use his CIA contacts to take over the government and end democracy as we knew it just as soon as Reagan’s term in office was over.

    As I say, we’ve been Conservative. Drank the Kool-ade while it wasn’t rancid like it is today. We all left because we could see that the right wing had gone over the falls. What’s your excuse? Why can’t you figure that out? You seem intelligent enough to, what up wit dat?

  27. Kylopod says:


    I agree Trump isn’t a moron–at least not in the literal meaning of the word, which is someone who’s mildly mentally retarded–but his pathological narcissism causes him to behave as if he were one.

    Back in 2015 a friend of mine called him an idiot, and I said I thought he was an “evil genius.” That was back before most people thought it likely he would win the GOP nomination, let alone the presidency. I wasn’t saying I believed he was some grand chessmaster several steps ahead of everyone–far from it. I just felt he had an amazing talent for doing what he did, the way he played the media and his rivals in the primaries.

    Of course, at the time I was still firmly convinced Trump was some kind of performance artist playing a character, like Andy Kaufman doing Tony Clifton. I was 100% wrong about that. I wildly misjudged Trump’s character, because I could not wrap my head around the idea that any human being could behave the way he does in earnest. The man is a walking cartoon character. To call him a narcissist and a liar almost seems like missing the point; he’s like the most ridiculous caricature of those things. There are plenty of narcissists in the world who don’t go around saying things like “if I decide to run, you’ll have the great pleasure of voting for the man that will easily go down as the greatest president in the history of the United States.” There are plenty of dishonest businessmen who don’t dispute claims that one of their products is off the market by holding up a product with the visible logo of a different company.

    Narcissists and liars usually have enough sense to realize that antics such as these are comically unconvincing, and so they exercise some subtlety in their deceptions. Or more subtlety than Trump, at any rate–which admittedly is a very low bar.

    I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my cynicism has gone through the roof since Trump rose to power. Trump is a con artist, all right (I mean that in a very literal sense–Trump University was a bonafide scam), but he’s an incompetent, two-bit one, and it defies common sense that so many people fall for his lies, because they’re so stupidly transparent. I think it’s safe to say that never in the history of the world has there ever been a leader whose lies were more easily disproven. I don’t mean there haven’t been Trump-like figures before–I have no doubt there have been. But we live in a time where it’s moronically easy for an average person to check whether someone is telling the truth or not. He’s denied saying things that were still on his Twitter feed, or even things he said earlier during the same public appearance. And yet millions of people continue to treat his every word as gospel truth.

    In some ways it’s an indictment of the system, not just of Trump himself. That’s something I did actually anticipate to some degree. While some people were talking about Trump losing in a Goldwater-level rout, I knew as soon as he was headed toward the nomination that the general election was going to be competitive and that most Republicans would rally around him. The cult of Trump isn’t the whole story here; it comes from the mass network of conservative media who have at least a third of the populace completely brainwashed into accepting nonsense and refusing to listen to legitimate sources of information. This media may not have asked for Trump, but Trump was a perfect fit for the audience, and once he captured the nomination and later the presidency it was inevitable this media would do everything they could to prop him up.

  28. Catchling says:


    Mueller says no Americans involved: Russian interference pre-dates 2016 campaign by years!

    An American was indicted by Mueller in connection to IRA, on the same day, in a separate indictment. That American is claiming deliberate ignorance (as in, he didn’t know they were Russian because he chose not to learn who was asking him to get them a bunch of bank account numbers, identities, etc.)

    The interference by IRA goes back to 2014, which lines up very well with Trump’s preparations for his run — it’s when he was trademarking MAGA, visiting Iowa with other candidates, etc. Most damning is this 2014 tweet where a Russian woman poses with him and says he “will” be a great president. As his defenders are quick to point out, that is indeed well before he’d publicly announced it.

    This is all right after he’d been to Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. Likely that’s exactly where he was first asked to run for president (and perhaps shown one or more incriminating videos of his nighttime activities). The timeline makes more and more sense every day.