Trump Denies That He Ever Called Russian Interference a “Hoax”

He did.

Oliver Contreras/Sipa via AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Two days after 13 Russian nationals were indicted for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump denied that he’d ever claimed Russia hadn’t meddled in the election. On Twitter Sunday morning, Trump acknowledged that he’d repeatedly referred to the Russia scandal as a “hoax,” but he insisted that he had simply meant his campaign hadn’t colluded with Russia.

Trump’s claim that he “never said Russia did not meddle” appears to be an attempt to recast his past statements after Friday’s indictments shattered his efforts to dispute the significance of Russian interference. But yet again, Trump isn’t telling the truth. In reality, he has repeatedly cast doubt on the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia worked to disrupt the election and wanted to help Trump win.

In November, Trump drew notice when he recounted a conversation he’d recently had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election,” Trump told reporters during a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. “I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said.

On September 27, 2017, after Facebook revealed that Russians had placed political ads on the site during the 2016 campaign, Trump tweeted that the “hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook.” Trump in this case used the word “hoax” to dismiss claims that Russia had attempted to influence the election. Facebook’s disclosure did not allege the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

In April, on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Trump said it was hard to know who hacked Democratic emails, despite the fact that the intelligence community has attributed those actions to Moscow. “It’s very hard to say who did the hacking,” Trump said. “With that being said, I’ll go along with Russia. It could have been China. It could have been a lot of different groups.” Trump then called claims that his campaign colluded with Russia a “phony story.” When asked if Russian interference in the election was also a phony story, Trump said, “That I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Trump’s attempt to revise his position on Russian meddling came during an extraordinary—even for him—burst of tweets Saturday night and Sunday morning. At 11:08 pm Saturday night, Trump appeared to blame the ongoing Russia investigation for the FBI’s failure to prevent Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. At 11:22 pm, he faulted his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, for failing to repeat Trump’s preferred talking points about Russian interference. 

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate