Trump: “It was the Democrats who colluded with Russia”
Developments on Day 464 of the Trump Administration:
Trump Tries to Sweep Away Advisors’ Meetings with Kremlin Envoys
In a speech in Michigan, Donald Trump pushes an unsupported conspiracy theory to try and hold back investigation of his campaign’s links with Russia in the 2016 Presidential election.
Trump faced further unwelcome developments on Friday with new information pointing to discussions with Kremlin-linked officials in June 2016 about provision and dissemination of material damaging to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya — one of three envoys who met Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and campaign manager Paul Manafort in June 2016 — finally acknowledged that she is a Kremlin “informant” who has worked closed with Russia’s Prosecutor General.
Then a report from Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee — even as they tried to quash any claim of “collusion” between Trump officials and the Russians — included another clue. On July 15, senior campaign advisor and future National Security Advisor Michael Flynn e-mailed another campaign aide: “There are a number of things happening (and will happen) this election via cyber operations (by both hacktivists, nation states and the DNC [Democratic National Committee]).”
Trump responded on Saturday night with a convoluted portrayal of a conspiracy in which the Kremlin, far from supporting his campaign, worried about his ascendancy:
I guarantee you, I’m tougher on Russia. Nobody ever thought.
In fact, have you heard about the lawyer? For a year, a woman lawyer, she was like, “Oh, I know nothing”….Now all of a sudden she supposedly is involved with government.
You know why?…Because Putin and the groups said, “You know this Trump is killing us. Why don’t you say that you’re involved with government so that we could go and make their life in the United States even more chaotic.” Look at what’s happened. Look at how these politicians have fallen for this junk. Russian collusion. Give me a break.
Trump did not explain why the Kremlin, if concerned about his Presidency, would carry out their plot through meetings with Trump campaign staff, not only at Trump Tower but in other contacts with Flynn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and foreign policy advisors George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.
However, the President was given some cover by the report from the GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee. It tried to sweep away the assessment of US intelligence by saying that Russia never promoted Trump but wanted to sow disruption through its interference in the 2016 election.
Democrats on the Committee protested that the report is an attempt to “whitewash” the Trump-Russia connections.
Trump pressed on with his conspiracy theories last night, using them to attack his own agencies as well as Democrat opponents:
The only collusion is the Democrats colluded with the Russians. And the Democrats colluded with lots of other people. Look at the intelligence agencies.
He then attacked the Justice Department, FBI, and its former director James Comey, whose interviews and book this month have given further information about his contacts with Trump before the President fired him — in an unsuccessful attempt to halt the Russia inquiry — in May 2017.