When President Trump refers to the Russia investigation as a “hoax,” he’s not challenging the fact that Russia was behind the election-related hacking in 2016, he’s saying the notion that there was any collusion between his campaign and Russians, a theory asserted as fact by some Democrats, is a “hoax.”
That’s what White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Wednesday, although CNN panelists immediately following the press briefing seemed to have a hard time understanding that statement.
“The accusation against the president was that he had help winning the election and that’s simply untrue. The president won because he was the better candidate, because he worked harder, because he a message that America actually cared about and believed in and came out in an historic fashion and supported and voted for him. That’s why he won,” Sanders said.
“It wasn’t because of some made-up hoax that has been created to delegitimize this president. it’s because he was the best candidate that America wanted to see and that’s why he’s in the oval office today.”
Sanders was then asked if Trump “rejects” the “reporting from the intelligence community saying that there was hacking that went on done by Russia.”
“No, he has addressed that. That doesn’t mean that he participated in it. I think those are very different things. stating the existence of something happening is very different than having helped make it happen. and you can’t conflate the two. I think often times that’s what individuals are trying to do,” Sanders said.
The Daily Caller confirmed with Sanders after the briefing that what Trump believes is a “hoax” is that there was any collusion between his campaign and the Russians, not that the idea that Russia was behind the hacking.
The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
CNN host Brooke Baldwin seemed to struggle with that distinction after the briefing, expressing frustration that “we still have the White House spokesperson standing at that podium and saying this whole thing is a hoax. What planet are they on?”
CNN political director David Chalian agreed with Baldwin. “They are definitely on a different planet than House and Senate Republicans and Democrats on committees, Mueller’s entire team and FBI investigators — none of those people would say this is a hoax for the most part,” Chalian said. “The president is on a bit of an island here.”
To date, the public still has no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.