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Juan Williams: Cloud of illegitimacy hangs over Trump

So now he admits it?

President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE recently tweeted that investigations into allegations of collusions with Russia were unfair “because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”

Uh, Mr. Trump, you’ve now admitted that Russia acted to put you in the White House?

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Of course, within hours Trump reverted to denying Russia helped him: “Russia did not get me elected,” he told reporters asking about the tweet.

Trump is afraid of the truth regarding Russia’s help because it opens the door for Americans to see him as an illegitimate president.

And if he admits he is in the White House by accident, then his campaign for reelection starts in a big hole. Voters will have to face the ugly reality that he is president only because Russia twisted the 2016 race.

By the way, there is no question that Russia worked to get him elected.

U.S. intelligence agencies stated unequivocally in January 2017 that Russia interfered for the express purpose of boosting Trump and defeating his Democratic opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHere's who Biden is now considering for budget chief Clinton praises Dolly Parton's cold shoulder top from vaccination: 'Shall we make this a trend?' Trump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC MORE.

That truth is so frightening to Trump that last year, while standing next to Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinDo Biden's 'tough new sanctions' give Putin Nord Stream 2? Russia vows retaliation for new US sanctions: 'We do not intend to put up with this' Wray hints at federal response to SolarWinds hack MORE, he said he believed Putin’s denials of interference and not the findings of America’s own intelligence agencies.

That jaw-dropping statement at the Helsinki summit in July 2018 was famously described by the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWe need an independent 1/6 commission that the whole country can have confidence in GOP targets Manchin, Sinema, Kelly on Becerra The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? MORE (R-Ariz.) as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Even now, Trump persists in telling people at his rallies that the “deep state” is selling a “Russia hoax.”

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE in fact found numerous contacts between Russia and the Trump camp but concluded there was insufficient evidence for an indictment.

Recall the final words from Mueller at his press conference last month, when he asked Americans to focus on the “central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systemic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

Mueller’s warning is chilling because the crime continues.

Rep. Mike QuigleyMichael (Mike) Bruce QuigleyOn The Money: Biden signals he'll move forward on COVID-19 relief without GOP | Economy adds 49K jobs in January | Minimum wage push sparks Democratic divisions House bill introduced to give gyms B in relief Biden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds MORE (D-Ill.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said this explicitly last year.

“I am concerned the Russians never left,” he said, adding that the Russians hacked “between 20 and 40 state board of elections” in 2016.

Then-National Security Agency chief Adm. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersOvernight Defense: Tim Kaine moves to claw back war powers authority | Study on sexual harassment and assault in the military Commissioners tasked with scrubbing Confederate base names sworn-in at first meeting China has already infiltrated America's institutions MORE was famously asked last year by the Senate Armed Services Committee if the White House had ordered him to do more to stop future Russian interference in elections.

Rogers said it had not.

“President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion that there’s little price to pay and that therefore ‘I can continue this activity,’” added Rogers. “Clearly what we have done hasn’t been enough.”

In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantis Florida Keys enclave, home to political donors, received COVID-19 vaccine as rest of state struggled CVS pharmacies in Florida to vaccinate teachers under 50 despite state age limits The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls MORE (R) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk GOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment' CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be MORE (R-Fla.) said Russian hackers accessed voting data in two Florida counties.

“Russia’s social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians,” according to a “Worldwide Threat Assessment” from U.S. intelligence agencies issued in January.

But when then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing MORE expressed concern to White House officials that Russia interfered with the 2018 midterms, she was told, according to The New York Times, “not to bring it up in front of the president.”

The White House chief of staff, Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE, according to the Times, made it clear to Nielsen that Trump “still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory.”

Maybe that explains why the Trump White House has done away with its cybersecurity coordinator.

Maybe that is why Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBiden to speak with Saudi king 'soon' as pressure builds for Khashoggi report Biden to speak with Saudi king ahead of Khashoggi report: report Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE, the president’s son-in-law, still describes Russia’s role in the 2016 election as nothing more than “a couple Facebook ads.”

The reality, in the words of FactCheck.org, is that the Mueller report found Russia conducted a “sophisticated, years-long hacking and social media effort to influence an election.”

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Incredibly, Kushner later told Axios that he is not sure that he would alert the FBI if he received an email, similar to one he received in 2016, suggesting that Russia was willing to help a future Trump campaign:

“It’s hard to do hypotheticals,” he said.

Say what?

Americans can see through the Trump team’s attitude.

A Monmouth University poll taken last month found 60 percent of Americans think the government is not doing enough to stop Russian interference.

The press, members of Congress and the American people need to ask themselves which is more important: protecting the president’s fragile ego or protecting the integrity of democratic elections?

Whatever your answer, there is no way to save the Trump presidency from being tainted by the cloud of illegitimacy.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.