Donald Trump held a brief press avail during a meeting with congressional Republicans on Tuesday afternoon. And he took the opportunity to attempt some damage control for what he did Monday when he blatantly sided with Vladimir Putin. But his explanation was one of the lamest walk-backs ever.
Trump’s adventures in damage control began with the false assertion that he has always supported the intelligence community. That is contradicted by dozens of statements over the past several months that explicitly reject their assessment of Russia’s election tampering and hacking.
“I’ll begin by saying that I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies. Always have. And I have felt very strongly that, while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that – and I’ve said this many times – that I accept our intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”
First of all, Trump said that he now accepts the intelligence community’s conclusions. But in the same sentence he continues to latch onto the nonsense that there “could be other people.” That’s not the conclusion of the intelligence community. That’s Trump’s way of avoiding a full denouncement of his Russian handler, Vladimir Putin. He’s leaving Putin some wiggle room. But according to every U.S. agency with jurisdiction there was only one country that unlawfully attacked us during the 2016 presidential election.
Then Trump went into an explanation wherein he said that he was confused as to what the big deal was following the press conference. So he said that he got a transcript and discovered that he misspoke on a single word. And therefore, he wanted to make a clarification that he thought should have been obvious:
“In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it WOULDN’T be Russia.’ … Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.”
Trump’s claim that he misspoke when he said “would” is wholly unbelievable. Not only does it not change the context of his original remarks, it ignores the entirety of what he said Monday that he left uncorrected. His extensive comments during the Putin-Trump press conference were filled with references that steered culpability away from Russia. And changing one word leaves the rest of his treasonous comments unchanged and in effect. It doesn’t alter his stated opinion that “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
In addition to those pitiful pseudo-retractions, Trump once again went off about collusion, which he said there was none of, and that all the voices in his head agree with him. Then he launched another of his famous “Blame Obama” tirades where in he also lashed out at John Brennan and James Clapper – you know, intelligence officials – who Trump said were profiting from TV appearances. He accused them all of “burying” the election hacking story. Never mind that the Obama administration actually reacted appropriately, expelling dozens of Russian operatives, throwing them out of two compounds, and restricting visas for many more Russians not currently in the U.S. He would have done more, but GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell wouldn’t cooperate.
Finally, why would anyone believe Trump at this point? He doesn’t even believe himself. He had to read the whole statement from prepared remarks he was probably forced to make. And he stuttered through it like he had never seen it before. At one point he said that his administration would “repeal” Russia’s efforts to interfere with our upcoming elections. He meant “repel,” but pretended that he meant both.
What’s more, Trump’s original statement was so egregiously offensive that it produced immediate scorn from across the political spectrum. He would have known instantaneously that he made a terrible mistake, if it were a mistake. He had plenty of opportunities to issue a correction. He could have told Hannity during the interview he gave right after the Putin tryst. He could have used his preferred method of communications by tweeting a correction. His press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who did reply to the commotion his comments made, might have told reporters then that he misspoke.
But none of those things were done. And twenty-four later he reads a ridiculous, alleged “clarification” that didn’t even alter the meaning of comment. Saying “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,” is not the same as saying “Russia did it, and they better not do it again.” In the end, Trump’s absurd excuse changed nothing at all, and his un-American actions are just as repugnant today as they were yesterday – and the days, weeks, and months before that.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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