President Donald Trump railed against the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election Saturday night into Sunday, sending off a stream of tweets attacking the FBI, CNN, the Democratic Party, his own national security adviser, former President Barack Obama and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
He did not criticize Russia, or voice concern over Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine U.S. elections.
“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning.
The tweets came after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians on Friday for their efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and aid Trump’s campaign. The Twitter broadsides attracted bipartisan pushback as Republicans and Democrats expressed frustration that Trump is not taking the Russian threat seriously.
The White House has sought to frame the indictments as vindication, since they do not allege collusion with the Trump campaign, but senior aides have voiced concern that Trump would lash out at the FBI.
Trump confirmed those fears on Saturday night.
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
That statement stirred bipartisan ire.
“I think it’s an absurd statement. Absurd,” said Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) on CNN.
Others reacted to that tweet, and the rest, with something of an eye-roll.
“Maybe it was a bad idea for him to stay off the golf course,” quipped one senior GOP Hill aide in response to a query from POLITICO.
Trump also went after his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who said the evidence of Russian meddling was “incontrovertible.”
“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” Trump wrote.
By Sunday morning, he was on to attacking Obama for the nuclear deal with Iran.
“Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!” Trump wrote.
Then, he moved on to the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California.
“Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!” Trump wrote.
He later added: “Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead [sic] by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?”
Trump also took a moment to defend his past statements that seemed to shed doubt on Russia’s role in election-meddling, writing: “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia — it never did!”
Trump has repeatedly sought to downplay the evidence of Russian interference, and he said in November that he believed Putin’s denials of meddling.
“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said at the time. “I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”
The Twitter tirade was notably absent of any calls to action in addressing Russian interference. That absence drew swift criticism, as did Trump’s seeming inability to focus on the meaning of the allegations beyond himself and his own campaign.
“Above all this rhetoric here, we begin losing sight of what is it we’re going to do about the threat of the Russians,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in an interview on CNN. “He never talks about that. It’s all about himself.”
“This is a president who claims vindication anytime someone sneezes,” Schiff told CNN, and he went on to question why the White House has refused to implement sanctions that Congress passed by huge majorities to punish Russia.
“It is inexplicable that the president of the United States continues to sit on sanctions that Congress passed, that Congress wants enforced against Russia over this interference,” Schiff said on “State of the Union.”
Under the law, sanctions were to be imposed by Jan. 30, but the White House demurred at that time, saying the threat of sanctions was “serving as a deterrent.”
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also expressed frustration about Trump’s unwillingness to confront Russia over the meddling.
“Russia’s clearly tried to advance their agenda into the United States,” Lankford told NBC.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called Trump’s unwillingness to address Russian interference going forward “one of the weirdest things in modern American history.”
“How do we have the president of the United States not saying what everybody knows to be true?” the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate continued in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Russia interfered in ’16, and they’re going to interfere in 2018. … This is a huge deal, and that we don’t have a president speaking out on this issue is a horror show.”
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