In a tweet, Trump repeated his frequent claim that the probe is a “Witch Hunt,” and that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators is made up of a number of political opponents intent on undermining his presidency.
“There is No Collusion!” Trump tweeted. “The Robert Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt, headed now by 17 (increased from 13, including an Obama White House lawyer) Angry Democrats, was started by a fraudulent Dossier, paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC. Therefore, the Witch Hunt is an illegal Scam!”
The tweet was his latest attack on what has become one of his most frequent targets. Trump has repeatedly sought to cast the Russia investigation as a free-wheeling expedition to gather dirt on his campaign and associates.
The tweet came just over a week after the Justice Department released documents related to secret surveillance warrants obtained on Carter Page, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign.
Those documents cite allegations in a dossier compiled in 2016 by a former British intelligence agent that Page met with two senior Russian representatives during a trip to Moscow that year.
The research behind the dossier was funded, in part, by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Some Republicans have long argued that the application to obtain the surveillance warrant against Page relied too heavily on the dossier, which contains salacious and controversial claims that have not been verified.
But Democrats have pointed to the fact that the warrant application contains evidence against Page that is unrelated to the dossier, such as efforts by Moscow to recruit Americans as intelligence assets in 2013. Page was reportedly one of those targets.
July 20, 20187 Comments
A Republican in a Clinton swing district called out Trump.
In the most forceful rebuke yet from a Republican member of Congress who’s up for re-election this year, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) has denounced Trump’s capitulation to Russia.
“Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the C.I.A., I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them,” Hurd writes in an op-ed column published in the New York Times’ Friday edition.
Hurt’s critique came after Trump met privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, and then spent the whole week trying to explain what was said in the meeting, and why he publicly sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence regarding Russia’s attacks on the 2016 election.
“By playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands, the leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and foes abroad,” the Congressman wrote.
Hurd is one of several dozen House Republicans who find themselves in competitive races as a blue wave of Democratic voter enthusiasm spreads this year. Hurd won his House seat in 2016 by just 1 point, and he represents a district Hillary Clinton won by 3 points.
His election run this year is being described as “Texas’ most competitive Congressional race.”
Hurd’s break with Trump suggests at least one Republican sees ongoing obedience to Russia as a political loser in swing districts.
Overall however, most Republicans, afraid of criticizing Trump and his loyalists, have remained publicly silent, or offered up timid rebukes regarding Trump’s behavior in Helsinki this week.
And on Thursday, every single Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee voted to shield Trump from scrutiny about his one-on-one meeting with Putin in Helsinki.
Hurd’s reprimand follows a New York Times report that in January 2017 senior intelligence officials privately presented Trump with extensive evidence that Putin had personally ordered cyberattacks against the U.S. in an attempt to sway the 2016 elections.
Meanwhile, the White House is now preparing to welcome Putin to Washington, D.C., just two years after he launched the cyberattack on the U.S. The news of Putin’s pending visit stunned members of Trump’s team.
“That’s gonna be special,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said when he was notified about Putin’s visit during a televised interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
It’s clear Republicans are struggling to handle Trump’s aggressive loyalty to Russia.
More likely than not, that’s wrong. President Donald Trump repeatedly claims that no votes were affected — even on occasions when he acknowledges Russian meddling at all. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who says he is “1,000 percent certain that the Russians interfered in our election,” also insists it made no difference electorally. He recently tweeted: “Russia didn’t beat Clinton. Trump beat Clinton.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who as director of the Central Intelligence Agency helped oversee the investigation of Russian interference, has even gone so far as to assert that the intelligence community reached the same conclusion that Russian sabotage had minimal impact.
And on Tuesday, Trump one-upped all of them by claiming that Russia “will be pushing very hard for Democrats” in the 2018 midterm elections. It’s hard to prove that Russia’s use of phony trolls and social media and its theft of email messages from prominent Democrats is what elected Trump. In an election as close as the 2016 balloting, many factors are always at play, and tactical errors by the Hillary Clinton campaign, her own shortcomings as a candidate and rogue public criticism of Clinton by FBI Director James Comey all figured in Trump’s victory.
But Pompeo was factually wrong about one thing: The intelligence community reached no conclusion about what did propel Trump to victory, at least not in public.
And now a number of experts familiar with the issue have come to believe that Russia did make a difference for Trump.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper now says the evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin swung the election to Trump “is staggering.” Noting that fewer than 80,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin decided the contest, he wrote in a book released in May, “I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by the massive effort by the Russians.”
Most Republicans dismiss Clapper as a Trump-hating supporter of his former boss, ex-President Barack Obama. But Clapper’s view will get powerful academic support soon. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a leading scholar of communications and its effect on American politics, has a book coming out in September that will present data in support of its case that Russian interference in 2016 was a decisive factor for Trump.
“The Russian trolls and hackers created message imbalances, the former in social media, the latter in news,” that helped the Republican, she said in an interview on Sunday. “The use that the mainstream and conservative media made of the Russian hacking of the Democrats’ emails altered the news and debate agendas in ways that past election research would suggest were significant enough to change the outcome.”
The book is “Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President, What We Don’t, Can’t and Do Know.” Jamieson is a professor and former dean at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.
Contrary to the claims of most Republicans, there’s already a serious circumstantial case for the strong impact of Russian interference. NBC News and others have reported that there were thousands of Russian trolls amplifying phony reports like the fiction that Pope Francis endorsed Trump. Anecdotally, it’s obvious that these influenced some voters.
The leaks of emails sent by top Democrats played a role in setting the 2016 general election agenda. On the eve of the Democratic National Convention in July of 2016, for example, WikiLeaks released internal documents that U.S. intelligence agencies said were stolen by Russian hackers showing that the Democratic National Committee had favored Clinton over challenger Bernie Sanders in the primaries. That led to the resignation of the party chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and infuriated some Sanders supporters who later said that they sat out the general election.
Beyond the effect on voters, the relentless drumbeat of articles about email leaks also forced the Clinton campaign to spend time reacting and making strategic adjustments. Eight days before the election, the New York Times ran a front-page story declaring that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had found no clear link between Russia and Trump, and that Moscow’s purpose was to disrupt the American election but not to help one candidate. Later, after the election, the Times reported on links between Trump and Russians during the campaign, and the American intelligence agencies concluded in a public report that the purpose was to help Trump.
The president said he believes that because he’s so strong on Russia, Moscow wants to damage him in the upcoming election.
by Dartunorro Clark / Jul.24.2018 / 1:09 PM ET / Updated 1:50 PM ET
Trump said Russia would be “pushing very hard for the Democrats.”Carlos Barria / Reuters
Now, he’s worried about the Russians? President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday he was concerned about Moscow meddling in the upcoming election — to benefit Democrats — despite the president’s repeated statements casting doubt on Russian interference in U.S. elections and the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia helped him over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election,” the president said. “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!” It was unclear whether Trump was referring to the midterm elections in November or the upcoming presidential election in 2020.
Trump faced a fierce backlash from Republicans and Democrats last week after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, in which Trump appeared to accept Russia’s assertion that it did not orchestrate a campaign to influence the 2016 election despite U.S. intelligence agencies concluding otherwise.
A new kind of lying: Trump’s denies of Russian intrusion
Just days before Trump met with Putin, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in connection with the bitcoin-funded hacking of Democratic organizations and the Hillary Clinton campaign “with the intent to interfere” in the 2016 election.