Donald Trump reverts to his baseline on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, proclaiming that it is just a hoax and trying to shift blame to the Obama Administration.

Days after his half-hearted acceptance — under pressure from White House staff and Republican leaders in Congress — that Moscow had intervened, Trump made his true feelings clear on Twitter on Sunday:

Trump has always maintained, despite the unanimous conclusion of the US intelligence community, that Russia did not seek to affect the Presidential election. Facing a backlash over the remarks, he has sometimes made a hedging reference to possible interference by Moscow — while continuing to insist that “other people” were responsible for the operations and that he is the victim of a “witch hunt” in the Trump-Russia investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The pattern seized the political spotlight over the past week, beginning with Trump’s performance at the Helsinki Summit alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last Monday, Trump chose Putin over US intelligence agencies when asked about Moscow’s intervention.

Rather than castigate Putin over the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officials — filed by Mueller 72 hours earlier over the hacking and dissemination of material damaging Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — Trump lashed out at the FBI and Democrats. And he enthusiastically welcomed Putin’s move allowing US officials to watch Moscow’s questioning of the 12 indictees — provided the US handed over 11 Americans for Russian interrogation and possible punishment over the Magnitsky Act, Congressional sanctions adopted in 2012 in connection with Russia’s human rights abuses.

Trump was forced by his staff and the GOP Congressional leadership into a grudging statement saying he accepted the US intelligence community’s findings, but he watered it down by scribbling “THERE WAS NO COLUSION [sic]” on the text and by removing a sentence calling for the extradition of the Russian indictees to face justice in the US.

By Thursday night, Trump was pushing back his staff and the intelligence community with a snap invitation to Putin to visit the White House this autumn. US agencies were not consulted before Trump contacted the Russian leader through National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Earlier Sunday, Trump declared from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey:

Meanwhile, high-ranking US officials, including directors of intelligence and military commanders, have still not been briefed by Trump about the substance of his talks with Putin last week.

The Russians have used the one-on-one Trump-Putin meeting to put out claims that cannot be countered by Washington. These include supposed “formal military agreements” and Trump’s receptiveness to a “referendum” legitimating Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Protesters greet Trump with “Lock Him Up!” as he returns to the White House on Sunday: