Trump Reverts Back To Denying Russia Interference — This Time, For 2020
President Donald Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday evening, seemingly scoffed at the idea that Russia was still making attempts to interfere with U.S. elections and influence public opinion.
When questioned by a reporter who asked about the issue, Trump was flippant over it. “You don’t really believe this. Do you believe this?” he asked rhetorically, per reporting from NBC News.
The journalist had asked Trump, who had been on a phone call earlier in the week offering aid to Russia President Vladimir Putin with containing wildfires in Siberia, whether the topic of Russia’s interference was brought up during their discussion.
“We didn’t talk about that,” Trump said.
Trump’s dismissive attitude doesn’t match what his own FBI Director Christopher Wray said just over a week ago while speaking to Congress. Wray asserted that Russia is “absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections.”
Q: Mueller said last week that Russia is interfering in U.S. elections right now. Did you raise that with Vladimir Putin?
Trump: "You don't really believe this. Do you believe this?"
Q: Did you raise it with Putin during your call yesterday?
Trump: "We didn't talk about that." pic.twitter.com/Hi82kYHRCP
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 1, 2019
Other assessments of Russia’s interference noted that the Kremlin never really stopped trying to wage a social media influence campaign from when they began just before the 2016 elections, and that they’d be ramping up efforts to do so again in the 2020 races.
It’s not the only time Trump’s comments have seemingly been at odds with the FBI director. Earlier this year, during a much-publicized interfere with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Trump disputed Wray on the matter of whether accepting foreign “dirt” (information detrimental to one’s political opponents) was legal or not. Wray asserted it would be.
“Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way,” Trump said, per reporting from the Washington Post. Later in the interview, Trump said pointedly, “the FBI director is wrong.”
Over the course of the past few years, Trump has been back-and-forth on the issue of whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election or not, and has denied (when he’s acknowledged they had) that the foreign power did so in order to help him win, or that they were successful in altering the outcome of the election.
Last year, Trump made an audacious claim that he “never said Russia did not meddle in the election.” Several fact-checking organizations at the time, including FactCheck.org, called him out for the erroneous statement, pointing out myriad instances where he did.