Call it a slip of the tongue? After President Donald Trump sent out a slew of tweets in response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s statements on Wednesday, the chief executive seemingly admitted on social media Thursday morning that Russia helped him win the 2016 election.
“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” Trump wrote in his tweet, per reporting from Vox. “And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist.”
It was an admission that would’ve been the first for the president — and one that he immediately tried to distance himself from having actually said less than an hour later.
Reporters, speaking to Trump on the White House lawn later Thursday morning, asked the president about what he himself had written, and if he believed Russia helped him in the campaign.
“I got me elected,” Trump responded. “Russia did not help me get elected.
Trump flatly denies a tweet he posted just an hour earlier, now claims "Russia did not help me get elected." pic.twitter.com/vao8kFQcZQ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 30, 2019
“Russia didn’t help me at all. Russia, if anything, helped the other side,” the president alleged.
While Trump has long-denied any help from the Kremlin aided him in the 2016 election, intelligence officials have said for years that was indeed the case.
The CIA, for example, as early as December 2016, concluded that an intelligence and disinformation campaign by Russia, utilizing social media in the United States, was waged against the U.S. in hopes of getting Trump elected, The Guardian reported at the time.
The Mueller report itself, submitted in March of this year (with a redacted version made public in April), made similar conclusions, USA Today reported.
Importantly, Mueller’s statement on Wednesday did not indicate that the president or his campaign was innocent when it came to illegal coordination with the Russian government. Instead, Mueller stated that his inquiry couldn’t find sufficient grounds to suggest Trump had done something wrong, a point that Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano said was an important distinction to note, according to a previous report from HillReporter.com.