If anyone had any doubts about whether or not Trump would confront Vladimir Putin with the facts about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, he put them to rest during a press conference in Poland today.
After a muddled acceptance from the White House of the facts related to Russia’s interference, today’s statement by the president more closely resembled what Putin has said than what his own intelligence services have documented and even the vast majority of Republicans have determined to be the truth.
“I think it could very well have been Russia but I think it could well have been other countries, I won’t be specific,” Trump said at a news conference in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda. “I think a lot of people interfere. I think it’s been happening for a long time.”
“Nobody really knows,” Trump added. “Nobody really knows for sure.”
In this country, we’ve grown accustomed to Trump’s lying. But on an international stage, this president just told a couple of whoppers. We know exactly who tried to interfere in the election, there are no doubts about that. The president said this after being briefed thoroughly on his meeting with Putin tomorrow. It’s clear that he has no intention of doing anything to hold the Russian leader accountable.
He also degraded our democracy in the eyes of the world by saying, “I think a lot of people interfere. I think it’s been happening for a long time.” If the President of the United States thinks that, he has a duty to gather evidence, prove his point and do something to restore faith in our electoral system. If he fails to do that, he demonstrates that he has no interest in preserving our democracy. However, it is much more likely that he simply made up the idea that “it’s been happening for a long time” in order to give Putin a pass.
Trump went on to repeat his lie about Obama doing nothing about Russian interference in the election. That’s nothing more than his typical pattern of lie, distract and blame. Once again, we’re used to that. But it’s pretty unprecedented for a sitting president to attack his predecessor on the world stage.
Finally, he mocked U.S. intelligence services in front of the whole world by suggesting that he doesn’t believe their reports on Russian interference by comparing it to this:
“When I was sitting back listening about Iraq … Weapons of mass destruction, how everybody was 100 percent sure,” Trump said. “They were wrong and it led to a mess.”
I just wrote that the one way to understand Trump’s behavior is to recognize that it is all motivated by either self-preservation or self-aggrandizement. This spectacle today was all focused on the former. He needs to preserve the integrity of his election and protect himself against whatever it is that Vladimir Putin has on him. And he’s willing to trash the United States of America on the world stage in order to do so. I can think of nothing more contemptible.