Trump’s anger boils over with Russia probe
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump vented his anger with the Russia investigation late Saturday night and Sunday morning, declaring that “they are laughing their asses off in Moscow” over the ongoing probe into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.
In a remarkable burst of tweets sent from his Mar-a-Lago resort, the president blamed the Obama administration for not doing enough to deter Russia and claimed he never denied the meddling took place — all while undercutting his own national security adviser who said Saturday that the interference is now “beyond dispute.”
“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams,” Trump tweeted just after 8 a.m. “They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!”
The tweets revealed the depth of Trump’s frustration following special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of more than a dozen Russians accused of meddling in the 2016 election in an effort to boost Trump’s campaign.
Trump has long bristled at the notion that he received help in defeating his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and has resisted calls from members of both political parties to do more to disrupt the Kremlin’s plans to meddle in future U.S. elections.
The president has not criticized Russia for its election-meddling scheme, opting to focus on the ways he believes Mueller’s indictment exonerates his campaign from colluding with the Kremlin.
“We’re losing sight of what we’re going to do about the threat posed by Russians,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Sunday on CNN. “[Trump] never talks about that.”
While the nearby town of Parkland, Fla., continues to grieve over this week’s school shooting, the Mueller indictments appeared to be on the top of the president’s mind in Palm Beach.
He tweeted a dozen times over the past two days about the Russia investigation, and just once about the shooting victims. On Friday, he visited some injured victims and their families in the Florida hospital, as well as law enforcement involved in capturing the alleged shooter.
Trump has stayed away from the golf course while he’s been in Florida, even though the weather in Palm Beach has been warm and sunny, in what aides said is an effort to respect the 17 people who were killed in the shooting.
The president instead appears to be spending much of his weekend reacting to news coverage of the Russia indictments, which has riled him up.
Late Saturday night, Trump accused the FBI of missing “all of the many signals” about the alleged Parkland gunman because “they are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”
The attack on the FBI appeared to alarm Trump’s critics the most.
“It’s one thing for Trump’s cheerleaders on @FoxNews to take this ugly cheap shot against the FBI, but for the President to blame the FL shooting on their Russia investigation is disgusting,” tweeted former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) “Mr President, have you no shame? Wait. I know that answer.”
Others pointed out that while the FBI has admitted it missed a tip about the shooter, the offices responsible are not tied to the Russia probe.
Trump himself even praised the bureau on Friday night when meeting with law enforcement officials who responded to the Parkland shooting.
“Really great job,” he told FBI special agent in charge Robert Lasky. “And you had a lot [of] FBI guys down here, quickly. So great job. Thank you very much.”
The president also aired his grievances against a long list of opponents he believes are carrying out a “witch hunt” against him. That list included former President Obama, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), CNN and the Democratic Party.
But his most surprising target was national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who spoke at length at a conference in Munich about threats posed by Russia.
“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” Trump tweeted.
Trump was referring to Clinton and an explosive dossier of alleged ties between Trump and Russia compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, which was funded in part by Democrats tied to the 2016 nominee. Republicans charge that the unverified claims in the dossier helped launch the Russia investigation, a claim not supported by public documents.
The president also dug up stories that have been focal points for Republicans, including Clinton’s paid speeches and allegations that she improperly approved the sale of a Canadian uranium mining company with holdings in the U.S. to Russia. Former administration officials have denied any wrongdoing.
Trump has repeatedly focused on the fact that the Russian effort began in 2014, before he entered the presidential race, something he believes proves that the Kremlin’s effort was not designed to aid his campaign.
He returned to that theme on Sunday in hitting Schiff, who has become a frequent punching bag for the president.
“Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election,” Trump tweeted. “He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!”
Trump appeared to be referring to an NBC interview in which Schiff said the previous administration should have done more to deter Russia and other foreign governments’ ability to carry out cyberattacks.
Schiff hit back at Trump’s claims on Sunday, saying the indictments do not confirm the president’s claim there was no collusion. He pointed out the special counsel has made no conclusion on the questions of collusion and how much the Russian meddling affected the result of the 2016 contest.
“This is a president who claims vindication anytime someone sneezes,” Schiff said on CNN.
The California Democrat also said the Trump White House is making the same mistake Obama made in not aggressively countering Russian disinformation campaigns.
“They can’t point the finger back when they’re sitting on sanctions that the Congress on a very bipartisan basis has said need to be imposed,” Schiff said.
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