President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning his belief that Russia would prefer Democrats win the upcoming midterm elections in November, a notion that is laughable at first glance. But is the president preparing for an argument he can make in the days after the campaign season ends?
Trump published the tweet suggesting the Kremlin’s preference for his political rivals late in the morning on Tuesday.
“I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election,” he wrote. “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!”
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
Plenty of presidents, including his immediate predecessor, have been much tougher on Russia than Trump, who even refused to enforce the sanctions on the country that were passed by Congress last fall.
And it’s laughable that Trump somehow believes Putin wants to interfere in our elections to help Democrats. Our own intelligence agencies contradict that notion, stating that Putin prefers Republicans and Trump in power, and recent attacks by social media bots show that Russia is indeed trying to interfere again, by urging Democratic voters to leave the party and become independents. And even Putin himself admitted he wanted Trump to win in 2016.
In spite of all this evidence, Trump is claiming Russia wants Democrats to win. Why? It’s possible he’s doing so in order to shore up support for a different kind of distraction following the midterms.
If a “blue wave” of Democratic victories does come to fruition in November, Trump, harkening back to this tweet and other comments like it, could argue that Democrats, if they take back Congress, won in an illegitimate way. He could make a case, albeit one steeped in falsehoods, that Democrats were advantageous only because of the work Russians did to help them win.
Repeat a lie often enough, and people start to believe it. Trump, in planting the seeds of doubt in his supporters, is quite possibly trying to attack the election process itself, and he could use this lie to denounce Democrats if they take legislative control of the government next year.
Trump, if he is in fact laying this kind of groundwork, should be ashamed of his behavior. He has proven, time and again, to be an ineffectual and terrible leader. He will never take responsibility for this flaw, however, opting instead to blame others whenever possible, concocting lies and myths just to save face with his base.