Trump Denies That He Ever Called Russian Interference a “Hoax”

He did.

Oliver Contreras/Sipa via AP

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Two days after 13 Russian nationals were indicted for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump denied that he’d ever claimed Russia hadn’t meddled in the election. On Twitter Sunday morning, Trump acknowledged that he’d repeatedly referred to the Russia scandal as a “hoax,” but he insisted that he had simply meant his campaign hadn’t colluded with Russia.

Trump’s claim that he “never said Russia did not meddle” appears to be an attempt to recast his past statements after Friday’s indictments shattered his efforts to dispute the significance of Russian interference. But yet again, Trump isn’t telling the truth. In reality, he has repeatedly cast doubt on the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia worked to disrupt the election and wanted to help Trump win.

In November, Trump drew notice when he recounted a conversation he’d recently had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election,” Trump told reporters during a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. “I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said.

On September 27, 2017, after Facebook revealed that Russians had placed political ads on the site during the 2016 campaign, Trump tweeted that the “hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook.” Trump in this case used the word “hoax” to dismiss claims that Russia had attempted to influence the election. Facebook’s disclosure did not allege the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

In April, on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Trump said it was hard to know who hacked Democratic emails, despite the fact that the intelligence community has attributed those actions to Moscow. “It’s very hard to say who did the hacking,” Trump said. “With that being said, I’ll go along with Russia. It could have been China. It could have been a lot of different groups.” Trump then called claims that his campaign colluded with Russia a “phony story.” When asked if Russian interference in the election was also a phony story, Trump said, “That I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Trump’s attempt to revise his position on Russian meddling came during an extraordinary—even for him—burst of tweets Saturday night and Sunday morning. At 11:08 pm Saturday night, Trump appeared to blame the ongoing Russia investigation for the FBI’s failure to prevent Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. At 11:22 pm, he faulted his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, for failing to repeat Trump’s preferred talking points about Russian interference. 

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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