Ahead of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, President Trump used his Twitter account to promote blatant lies and Kremlin-favored talking points.
First, Trump posted a tweet blaming former President Obama for Russia’s attack on American democracy, claiming Obama “did NOTHING” to counter Russia.
“President Obama thought that Crooked Hillary was going to win the election, so when he was informed by the FBI about Russian Meddling, he said it couldn’t happen, was no big deal, & did NOTHING about it,” Trump tweeted. “When I won it became a big deal and the Rigged Witch Hunt headed by Strzok!”
Trump’s claim is a blatant lie. In the summer of 2016, Obama wanted to issue a bipartisan statement detailing what the intelligence community knew about Russian meddling and offering federal help to states. But his effort was stymied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who expressed “skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claims” about Russia interference, as the Washington Post reported.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s latest indictment, which was filed on Friday and which charges 12 Russian military intelligence officials for interfering in the 2016 presidential election, makes it clear that Obama was right about the intelligence all along.
After blaming Obama, Trump posted another tweet blaming the United States and Mueller’s investigation for ruining U.S. relations with Russia — a talking point that was quickly echoed by the Kremlin.
It’s not the first time Trump’s rhetoric has mirrored Russia’s. Trump and Putin have also used the same talking points to dismiss concerns about Russia’s election interference. Both world leaders have suggested Russia has been unfairly blamed because the hacks could’ve originated from anywhere in the world. Mueller’s latest indictment indicates Trump and Putin are mistaken.
During remarks made to the press pool on Monday at the beginning of the summit — just ahead of a 90-minute meeting with Putin in which no notetaker would be present — Trump didn’t so much as mention Russia’s attack on American democracy or the country’s illegal invasion and occupation of Ukraine.
Instead, Trump appeared to wink at Putin — and told him, “I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship.”
Trump received a briefing in August 2016 in which he was personally warned about Russia’s efforts to infiltrate his campaign.
Shortly before that, Trump publicly encouraged Russian hackers to go after Hillary Clinton. Mueller’s latest indictment indicates that on that same day — July 27, 2016 — Russian hackers launched unprecedented cyberattacks against Clinton’s team.
Then, in October, emails stolen by Russian hackers that were ultimately published by WikiLeaks became the centerpiece of Trump’s closing message.