President Donald Trump’s constant back-and-forth on the “Russian Hoax” is enough to make one’s head dizzy.
But as of now, he is again decrying Russian interference in the elections a ruse, despite recent briefing from top national security officials that the Kremlin is trying to interfere with the U.S. political system.
During a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for Rep. Lou Barletta, Trump lamented his disastrous Helsinki summit, with Russian president Vladimir Putin, was misreported by the media and the “Russian hoax” was straining the relationship between the two nations.
"In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with Putin," Trump said. "We discussed everything. ... We got along really well. By the way, that's a good thing, not a bad thing. Now we're being hindered by the Russian hoax — it's a hoax, OK?"
"We’re being hindered by the Russian hoax," President Trump tells the crowd at a Pennsylvania rally — but doesn't mention election meddling, as he talks about his meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland https://t.co/r9ogj9662B pic.twitter.com/0P2d72KuXp— CNN International (@cnni) August 3, 2018
The comments echoed the ones Trump made at the summit with Putin where he cited the Kremlin leader’s denial over Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election convinced him there would not be “any reason why” Russia would interfere in the elections. The statement directly contradicted U.S. intelligence agencies.
He later backtracked on the remark — amid extreme bipartisan rebuke — saying he misspoke and meant to say “would” instead of “wouldn’t” — an explanation that made no sense.
The statement directly contradicted the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russian interfered in the 2016 presidential election with a clear bias for Trump over then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
During the Pennsylvania rally, Trump again undermined his own security officials.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, during a recent White House briefing, informed Russia is continuing to try and influence U.S. politics.
"We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States," Coats said from the White House briefing room. "The President has specifically directed us to make the matter of election meddling and securing our election process a top priority.”
However, from his recent statement, it doesn’t look like Trump even considers Russia a threat or believes several reports of interference, all backed by his national security team.
And this would not be the first time Coats has seemed unaware of the President’s stance on Russia.
After the Helsinki summit, Coats was seemingly unaware that Trump had invited Putin to the White House. When told of the invitation by Trump, the national intelligence director looked rather stumped.
Andrea Mitchell: We have some breaking news. The WH has announced Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.— David Mack (@davidmackau) July 19, 2018
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: Say that again.
AM: Vladimir Putin—
DC: Did I hear you?
DC: Ok... That's gonna be special. pic.twitter.com/zIKVECPm2x
During the same rally, Trump claimed the media wanted the two leaders to have a boxing match at the Helsinki summit, “Whatever happened to diplomacy?" he asked.
He also lamented he was wrongfully called soft on Russia, despite undermining his intelligence agencies at the world stage to favor the Kremlin leader. He said during the NATO summit, he had called out Germany, an ally, for being a captive of Russia.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS, Leah Millis