Well, that didn’t take long. After his widely questioned comments at a joint presser with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump has walked back his claim that Russia did not interfere with the 2016 election.
“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there,” Trump said in a statement before the press, reading off a sheet of paper.
“There was no collusion at all,” he clarified.
Trump also made the somewhat ridiculous assertion that he never actually really said that he accepted Putin’s assurances – he actually just accidentally deployed a cheeky double negative.
“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative,” Trump told reporters. “So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.”
Trump said he meant to say "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia," instead of "would" during the controversial Helsinki summit pic.twitter.com/R74brNEVR2— POLITICO (@politico) July 17, 2018
At this point it’s pretty clear there probably was some manner of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Putin himself admitted that he wanted Trump to win as he saw him as the more reliably pro-Russia candidate. That being said, it’s a bit of a harder slog to argue that this interference handed Trump his victory, and not just the collapse of the Democratic vote in key states.
Trump’s explanation is somewhat different to the tweet he sent just hours earlier arguing that it was a good meeting that was being misreported by the media.
“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia,” Trump wrote. “Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer argued in a Twitter thread that Trump’s backpedalling was too late:
President Trump tried to squirm away from what he said yesterday. It’s twenty-four hours too late, and in the wrong place.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 17, 2018
This Russia stuff is almost certainly never going to end, for better or worse.