Juan Williams: Cloud of illegitimacy hangs over Trump

So now he admits it?

President Trump 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?

{mosads}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 Clinton.

That truth is so frightening to Trump that last year, while standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, 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 McCain (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 Mueller 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 Quigley (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 Rogers 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 DeSantis (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (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 Nielsen 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 Mulvaney, 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 Kushner, 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.”

{mossecondads}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.

Tags Donald Trump Election Security Hillary Clinton Jared Kushner John McCain Kirstjen Nielsen Marco Rubio Mick Mulvaney Mike Quigley Mike Rogers Mueller report Robert Mueller Ron DeSantis Russian interference Russian meddling Vladimir Putin

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