This week, U.S. President Donald Trump somehow, after all the other contentious points of his presidency, managed to shock the world with comments he offered while standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin. After a one-on-one meeting with Putin in Finland, Trump said that he “doesn’t see any reason why it would be” Russia who had meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Tuesday, Trump attempted to clean up the damage caused by those remarks with a prepared statement at the White House. Talking to The Daily Beast, one Trump official backed the opinion no doubt held to by many — Trump said what he meant in Helsinki and the Tuesday walk back was a sham.
Speaking Tuesday, the senior official said:
‘[The president] is usually a shoot-from-the-hip and talk from the top of his head kind of guy. I think he was more truthful yesterday than today and is capitulating to an angry caucus.’
The unnamed official was certainly on point to note that the president faced an “angry caucus” in the aftermath of his “disgraceful performance” in Helinski.
As just one example from the many available, Fox News personality Laura Ingraham quipped:
‘Hint: Don’t use ‘strong and powerful’ to describe Putin’s denial re. election meddling. Use words ‘predictable and damaging to US-Russian relations’ to describe Russian meddling.’
Trump had, in addition to his above quoted comment, noted that Putin offered a supposedly “strong and powerful” denial of meddling in U.S. elections — as if that’s at all relevant to finding the truth of the Russia scandal.
While many Republicans allied with Trump have lambasted the Russia investigation thanks to its scrutiny of the president’s team, when push comes to shove, even GOP interests have admitted that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections and that such activities pose a serious threat.
In the wake of his Monday press conference with Putin in Finland, he lost individuals as high up as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), who commented:
‘[Russia] did interfere in our elections — it’s really clear. There should be no doubt about that.’
Pressure built on Trump from inside his own team to do something to fix the damage caused by his Monday pro-Putin remarks. According to one reporter, citing unnamed sources, White House chief of staff John Kelly himself gave a green light to Congressional Republicans to counter Trump.
Considering how sensitive Trump is to perceptions of his administration shared in the media, his Tuesday attempt to explain away his denial of Russian election meddling has a relatively easily traceable origin.
He said Tuesday that he misspoke in his original remarks and should have said that he didn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.
He buttressed that denial of his original remarks with a tweet that revealed that the public perception of his meeting with Putin is exactly where his head was, just as the unnamed official asserted.
Considering his many past statements casting doubt on Russia having meddled in U.S. elections, his distaste with negative press coverage is a fitting explanation for why he ACTUALLY decided to offer a walk back on Tuesday.
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