During his impromptu press interview before boarding Marine One yesterday, Trump answered some questions on the Washington Post story about Democrats funding the Steele dossier. In the end, he said that the whole “Russian hoax” was an attempt by Democrats to make an excuse for losing the election. Then he said this:
They didn’t know what to say, so they made up the whole Russia hoax. Now it’s turning out that the hoax has turned around and you look at what’s happened with Russia and you look at the uranium deal and you look at the fake dossier. So that’s all turned around.
I assume that he means that, as the right wingers are all reporting, it is now Hillary Clinton who is in the hot seat for colluding with the Russians. Do you see why I would question whether or not this is all a planned attempt to discredit the results of the Mueller investigation? Trump has his talking points all ready for public consumption in order to lie, distract and blame.
When the president talks about the “Russian hoax,” it is hard to know whether he is referring to the attempt by that country to influence the election (something he’s been all over the map about) or whether he’s talking about the allegations that his campaign colluded with those attempts. It is very possible that in his small mind, he doesn’t make a distinction. But the verdict on the former has already been delivered, there’s no turning that one around at this point. Russia attempted to influence a U.S. election. The only remaining question is whether or not anyone in the Trump campaign was involved in those efforts. The Steele dossier alleges that those ties ran very deep.
To buy Trump’s line about the Steele dossier is to believe that the Clinton campaign paid big money for it, but didn’t use it—even though the contents were being floated around D.C. prior to the election. Instead, they saved it until she lost and then spread its contents in an attempt to make excuses. How absurd is that?
Trump and his supporters are also clutching their pearls about how the Clinton campaign paid for opposition research. Paul Waldman has a great catch on that one.
So what exactly is the scandal here? Is it that the Clinton campaign conducted opposition research on Trump? Of course they did, just like the Trump campaign presumably conducted opposition research on Clinton.
Indeed, Trump himself has not only admitted his camp dug for oppo research on Clinton; he dismissed it as completely appropriate and no big deal. When the news broke about the meeting in which his son, son-in-law, and campaign manager hoped to get damaging information on their opponent from representatives of the Russian government, the president said: “Most people would have taken that meeting. It’s called opposition research … It’s very standard in politics.”
That was just three months ago.
These are the kinds of things Trump is using to suggest that the whole “Russian hoax” has turned around to shine the spotlight on his opponents. Does anyone else think he’s about to get a very rude awakening on that?