Trump’s Insane Evolution On Russia Meddling In 2016 Presidential Election
Donald Trump’s position on Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election has progressed from bizarre to nonsensical. It began with reports in early summer 2016 that Russia had successfully hacked the DNC. Then candidate Trump reacted by addressing Russia in a publicly televised message, encouraging them to find the whereabouts of 30,000 e-mails allegedly missing from then presidential candidate’s private e-mail server. The Trump campaign even suggested that the Democratic National Committee probably hacked itself as a distraction from their “deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader.” The White House’s later position was that candidate Trump was clearly joking about that encouragement to the Russians, as if joking about an adversarial foreign government’s intention to commit espionage was perfectly appropriate behavior for a candidate for our nation’s highest office.
In September 2016 interview with Larry King, Trump dismissed the notion that Russia was hacking in an attempt to influence the 2016 election, stating, “I don’t have any opinion on it. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t know who hacked. I’m not sure who — I mean, you tell me, who hacked? Who did the hacking? But I have absolutely no opinion on that. I don’t know, I haven’t heard that statement.”
Also in September during a presidential debate, Trump was once again dismissive of the Russia election meddling allegations as he said, “As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said, we should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we’re not. I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia. Maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China, but it could also be lots of other people, it also could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?” During the October 10, 2016 debate, on the issue of Russian cyber meddling, Trump is equally as dismissive.
As President Elect, after 17 US intelligence agencies had collectively and unequivocally agreed based on intelligence that Russia had hacked the 201 presidential election to influence its outcome in favor of Trump (and President Obama has issued sanctions and expelled diplomats in retaliation for the act), rather than applaud the work of his intelligence agencies and pledge to the American people that he will work to preventing this type of threat to our democracy, Trump instead verbally attacked the US intelligence community in December, 2016 comparing them to Nazi Germany. He then blamed the democrats for putting out what he believed to be a false narrative stating, “I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country.”
We could go on here, but from the time of candidate Trump to President Trump, there was only one single moment in which Trump seemed to have perhaps maybe acknowledged that Russia may have interfered with the 2016 election during a May 11, 2017 in an interview with Lester Holt stating, “I’ll tell you this — if Russia or anybody else is trying to interfere with our elections I think it’s a horrible thing and I want to get to the bottom of it and I want to make sure it will never ever happen.”
While there seemed to be a ray of hope that the President would start giving this issue not only acknowledgement but the serious attention it deserves, the American people learned from their own testimony that President Trump had not asked one single question or had one single conversation about Russia meddling with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director James Comey, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions about Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 election. Last week, when asked what the President’s position on Russia meddling was, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that he also has not had discussed the matter with the President.
It is this very lack of acknowledgement of the Russia meddling in the election and the lack of interest in ensuring it does not occur again that led to a bipartisan effort in the Senate to limit the President’s authority to act autonomously on Russia sanctions with the support of 97 senators. The legislation, known as the Russia Sanctions Review Act, would require Trump to notify Congress before he lifts sanctions tied to the invasion of Ukraine or Russia’s meddling in the White House race. That is how little legislators of even Trump’s own party believe the President would act in the best interest in the United States with regard to Russia.
In the latest twist in Trump’s Russia position, in the aftermath of the Washington Post’s report that senior Obama administration officials wished they would have done more to combat the threat posed by Russia cyber attacks directly ordered by Putin, Trump finally fully acknowledged Russia meddling by attacking President Obama for it, accusing HIM of collusion, and even going so far as to demand and apology from him via a typical incoherent Trump Twitter tirade!
What remains unclear is what Trump’s true motivation for his lack of acknowledgement of and lack of intention to prevent a recurrence of Russian interference the cornerstone of our democracy – our free elections. One plausible explanation is that the President is such an egomaniac that he chooses self image over protecting our democracy, as he may feel that public acknowledgement of Russia hacking to sway the election in his favor may undermine the legitimacy of his presidential victory. Business holdings a ties to Russia may be another motivating factor in refusing to hold Russia to account for what they did. Perhaps that is one of the reasons behind Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. As troubling as those prospects are, proof of Russia collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives to sway the election is an even more troubling scenario.
Whatever the reason, Trump’s exceedingly strange positions on Russia hacking culminating in an acknowledgement that it actually occurred only after he had a scapegoat to shift the blame to are, well…troubling.