Trump accuses Democrats of making up evidence of Russian interference

His tweetstorm is the clearest evidence yet he simply rejects the consensus view of current and former officials.

President Trump arrives on stage to speak at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh
President Trump arrives on stage to speak at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

In a Thursday morning tweetstorm, President Trump accused Democrats of manufacturing evidence that Russia interfered in the presidential election on his behalf.

Since becoming president in January, Trump has repeatedly insisted on Twitter that the “phony Russia story” is “fake news.” His view of the matter contradicts the US intelligence community’s joint assessment, the sworn testimony of a number of current and former intelligence officials, and recent news reports based on a leaked National Security Agency document detailing Russian hackers’ efforts to penetrate state-level voting systems.

During a White House briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to answer a question about if President Trump believes that Russia actually interfered in the 2016 election.

“I have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing,” Spicer said. “Obviously we’ve been dealing with a lot of other issues today. I’d be glad to touch base.”

Within 24 hours of Spicer’s briefing, testimony in the House and Senate from former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Dr. Sam Liles, acting director of the Cyber Division of DHS, exposed the absurdity of the White House’s line. Johnson told House members there is no doubt Russian interference occurred and provided a timeline of what the DHS knew and when it knew it. Liles, meanwhile, told senators her department has evidence Russian hackers targeted election-related computer systems in 21 states.

Trump, however, apparently thinks current and former intelligence community officials are making the whole thing up in an effort to cover for Democrats.

Trump’s tweetstorm on Thursday is reminiscent of one he posted in early March, during which he recklessly accused President Obama of wiretapping him. It comes on the heels of Trump accusing former FBI Director James Comey of perjuring himself during Senate testimony. Comey told senators about Trump’s efforts to get him to pledge personal loyalty and to quash an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lies about his communications with Russian officials.

Shortly after the Washington Post broke news last December about the CIA briefing US senators about their findings that Russian hackers meddled in the election on behalf of Trump, the then-president-elect released a statement slamming the intelligence community, describing them as “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

Around that same time, Trump used now-familiar talking points during a Time Magazine interview in which he said he didn’t accept the intelligence community’s conclusion.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe they interfered,” Trump said. He reiterated that position during a Fox News Sunday interview days later, characterizing the CIA’s findings about Russian meddling as “just another excuse” Democrats are using to explain Clinton’s loss.

While Trump’s view on Russian interference is at odds with the US intelligence community, it’s in lockstep with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During an interview late last month, Putin told a French newspaper that allegations of Russian meddling are a “fiction” created by Democrats to cover for Clinton’s loss.

“They simply lost, and they must acknowledge it,” Putin said.