President denies that he had ever suggested that Moscow might not have been involved
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida: President Donald Trump, in a series of angry and defiant tweets Sunday morning, sought to shift the blame to Democrats for Russia’s virtual war to meddle in the 2016 election, saying that President Barack Obama had not done enough to stop the interference and denying that he had ever suggested that Moscow might not have been involved.
Trump, who has said little to publicly acknowledge a threat to US democracy that even one of his top aides called “incontrovertible” on Saturday, asserted that the efforts to investigate and combat the Russian meddling had only given the Russians exactly what they wanted, saying that “they are laughing … off in Moscow.”
“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the US then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams,” Trump wrote.
From his Florida estate, the president has spent the weekend stewing over coverage of an indictment secured against more than a dozen Russians by Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading an investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.
The indictment says that while the Russians began their scheme in 2014 with the goal of undermining the US democratic system, they eventually shifted their focus to trying to help elect Trump and disparage his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
In another tweet Sunday, Trump, who has tried since the campaign to sow doubts about who was behind the election intrusions, said that he had “never said Russia did not meddle in the election,” quoting a comment he made in a 2016 presidential debate.
“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 wrote. “The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia — it never did!”
Trump also praised remarks by one of his chief antagonists, Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, that criticised Obama’s muted response to the Russian threat. But at the same time he called the congressman “the leakin’ monster of no control.”
“Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election,” Trump wrote.
The president in the past has traded bitter Twitter messages with Schiff, accusing him of leaking classified information from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s actions.
On Saturday, the president’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, said, referring to the Russian meddling, “With the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain.”
In a late-night tweet Saturday, Trump criticised McMaster for not saying at the security conference in Germany where he was speaking that the election results had not been changed as a result of the Russian interference. The nation’s intelligence agencies believe that it is not possible to make such a conclusion.