US president Donald Trump appeared to admit publicly for the very first time today that Russia helped him win the 2016 election. The surprising disclosure came over the president’s Twitter account and seemed to be a reaction to FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s public statement on Wednesday.
“I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected,” Trump said in an early morning tweet-storm. He then went on to accuse Democrats, the news media and Mueller for “harassment.”
The admission, however, was short-lived. Minutes after tweeting, Trump told reporters in the White House driveway that he alone was responsible for his election win.
The original tweet-storm was posted, deleted to correct the spelling of “accusation” in a later tweet, and then reposted. Russia’s efforts to influence the US election in Trump’s favor have been repeatedly and unequivocally confirmed by all of the country’s top intelligence officials, including those appointed by Trump.
On Wednesday, Mueller closed his remarks by repeating “the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
Trump has mostly denied that Russia had any involvement in the 2016 election. In a late 2016 interview with Time magazine, Trump said, “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
When Trump met Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2018, he sided with Putin against his own intelligence officials, days after a grand jury indicted Russian nationals in an investigation into election interference.
I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats [came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.