President Donald Trump suggested on Twitter on Thursday that the Russian government helped him win the 2016 election, but reversed the claim later in an exchange with reporters.
“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning. “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.”
Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax…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. So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media,…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
Trump attempted to clean up his Twitter snafu when speaking to reporters outside the White House hours after posting the tweet.
“Do you believe that Russia helped you get elected?” one reporter asked the president.
“No, Russia did not help me get elected,” Trump said.
“You know who got me elected? I got me elected,” he continued.
Trump’s critics and some news outlets seized on the tweet as a tacit admission by the Republican that he had Kremlin help in winning the election.
Special counsel Robert Mueller indicted more than two dozen Russian nationals who allegedly orchestrated email hacks and social media disinformation campaigns aimed at sowing chaos in the campaign. Mueller found no evidence that Trump or the campaign conspired with Russians in the email hacks or social media efforts.
Trump has acknowledged that Russia was likely behind the email hacks, but he has frustrated critics for not aggressively calling out the Russian government for the alleged meddling. He has also long dismissed the idea that the release of Democrats’ emails during the campaign helped him defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. (RELATED: Mueller Report Undercuts Several Steele Dossier Claims)
In his remarks on Thursday, Trump alleged that it was Clinton who actually colluded with Russia.
“Russia didn’t help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side. What you ought to ask is this: Do you think the media helped Hillary Clinton get elected? She didn’t make it, but you take a look at collusion between Hillary Clinton and the media. You take a look at collusion between Hillary Clinton and Russia. She had more to do, in the campaign, with Russia than I did,” he said.
Trump may have been referring to the Clinton campaign’s hiring of Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous dossier alleging a conspiracy between the Kremlin and Trump campaign.
Some Republicans have alleged that Steele, a former British spy, worked with Russians to compile the dossier. Steele’s defenders have said that he relied on a network of sources inside Russia. There is no evidence that he worked with Russian government officials to gather information for the dossier.
Perkins Coie, the law firm for the DNC and Clinton campaign, hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS in June 2016 to investigate Trump. Fusion in turn hired Steele, paying him $168,000 for the Trump project.
Update: This article initially claimed that Trump deleted his tweet regarding Russian help in getting him elected. Trump deleted an initial tweet for a typo, but reposted one shortly after.
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