Administration

Trump lashes out at ‘Fake News Media’ over Mueller indictments

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump on Saturday attacked the news media for its coverage of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of more than a dozen Russians accused of interfering in the 2016 election.

In a series of tweets, Trump said news outlets have not highlighted the ways he believes the charges exonerate his campaign from colluding with Moscow’s election-meddling efforts.

“Funny how the Fake News Media doesn’t want to say that the Russian group was formed in 2014, long before my run for President. Maybe they knew I was going to run even though I didn’t know!” the president tweeted.

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Trump has repeatedly seized on the charge, included in Mueller’s indictments released Friday, that the Russian efforts began well before the business mogul entered the presidential race. There were signs, however, that Trump was exploring a run as early as 2014.

The president on Saturday also cited a New York Post column that called the indictment “a big win” for Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s statement that it did not include allegations that “any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity” and a Facebook executive’s claim that most Russian ad spending came after the election.

The tweets are part of Trump’s efforts to spin the indictment in his favor, even though it undercut his longstanding claim that Russia’s election meddling was a “hoax.”

Trump’s critics have accused the president of misrepresenting Mueller’s charges.

The Justice Department has said the special counsel’s investigation is still ongoing and has yet to definitively conclude whether Trump’s campaign cooperated with the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the election. Mueller’s probe is also believed to be exploring whether Trump obstructed the federal investigation into Russian interference.

The special counsel on Friday brought charges against 13 individuals and three companies associated with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm” that set out in 2014 to interfere with the U.S. political system. 

By early to mid-2016, the U.S. concluded that the Russians were “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton” — something Trump has repeatedly refused to acknowledge. 

White House aides have gone to great lengths to back up the president’s efforts to downplay Russia’s election interference.

“There are two groups that have created chaos more than the Russians and that’s the Democrats and the mainstream media,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Saturday on Fox News, a comment that drew widespread backlash on social media.

Trump unleashed his Twitter barrage on a sunny day in South Florida, where he is spending the holiday weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. 

The president skipped his usual trip to the golf course, something aides told Bloomberg News was meant to respect the victims of Wednesday’s mass shooting at a nearby high school and those mourning them.

After landing on Air Force One on Friday night, the president and first lady Melania Trump visited a hospital to meet with victims and their families and thanked law enforcement officers at the Broward County Sheriff’s office. 

Trump on Saturday also called the Parkland, Fla., the Broward County comissioner and the principal  of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shooting took place, to “express condolences, receive updates, and offer support,” the White House said. 

But by the afternoon, the Mueller indictments appeared to be on the top of the president’s mind. He tweeted five times over the course of an hour about the Russia investigation, and once about the shooting victims.

“Melania and I met such incredible people last night in Broward County, Florida. Will never forget them, or the evening!” he wrote.

Updated: 3:50 p.m. 

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Melania Trump Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein Russian election interference

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