President Trump suggested Tuesday that he believes the Russian government has tired of his leadership and now may attempt to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections to help the Democrats.
The president made that assertion in a tweet that ignored the evidence presented by his own intelligence services that Russia had intervened in the 2016 election in his behalf.
I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
Faced with widespread criticism from members of his own party over his apparent acquiescence to Vladimir Putin’s claims that Moscow had not meddled in the 2016 election, Trump has sought in recent days to portray himself as tough on the Russian leader.
“There has never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been,” Trump said last Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting at the White House. “I think President Putin knows that better than anyone, certainly a lot better than the media. He understands it, and he’s not happy about it, and he shouldn’t be happy about it.”
Trump also insisted that he simply misspoke when he stated at a press conference with Putin in Helsinki that he didn’t believe Russia had meddled in the 2016 race.
At the same time, Trump has also sought to portray his summit with Putin in a positive light.
I had a GREAT meeting with Putin and the Fake News used every bit of their energy to try and disparage it. So bad for our country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2018
In Helsinki, Putin himself was asked if he had wanted Trump to win in 2016 and whether he had personally directed his own intelligence officers to try to hurt Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.
“Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal,” Putin said, responding to the first part of the question and ignoring the latter half.
On July 13, the U.S. Justice Department indicted 12 Russian officials for their attempts to interfere with the presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies and the Senate have been unanimous in their findings that Russia sought to aid Trump’s presidential bid in 2016.
Shortly after Trump’s appearance with Putin in Helsinki, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued an unusual statement reaffirming his view that Russia’s election attacks are already ongoing — something Trump’s post on Tuesday did not.
“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy,” Coats said.
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