President Trump has denied that Russia is currently targeting the U.S., despite the intelligence community’s findings. Mr. Trump made the assertion Wednesday at his first Cabinet meeting since spending a week overseas, where he cast doubt on existing international alliances and neglected to rebuke Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
After spending a majority of the meeting highlighting the country’s economic successes, Mr. Trump told reporters that there’s “never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been.”
“President Putin knows that better than anybody, he understands it and he’s not happy about it,” he added.
When pressed on if Russia was still targeting the U.S. and its election system, Mr. Trump replied, “Thank you very much, no.”
His latest comment comes in direct contrast to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’ statement released shortly after the president’s summit in Helsinki, which said the intelligence community has “been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.” It’s the second time Mr. Trump has contradicted Coats, previously that he doesn’t know if he necessarily agrees with Coats’ warning about the “critical” threat of potentially devastating cyberattacks targeting U.S. systems.
And a lot of people are saying that Trump’s press conference with Putin was a great success:
The president tweeted earlier Wednesday, saying that even “higher ends” of the intelligence community “loved” his press conference with Putin, teasing that “big results will come” from it.
You’ll be relieved to hear that Lindsey Graham immediately emerged to pose some tough questions:
Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told reporters that “everything I’ve seen from the intelligence community suggests Russia is interfering with the 2018 election.”
Graham added, “I’d be curious to find why the President doesn’t believe that” latest suggesting that Mr. Trump “needs to explain to the American people why he rejects the intelligence assessment about their ongoing activity against our democracy.”
Rinse and repeat.