Donald Trump on Putin and election meddling, on Saturday:
Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that. And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.
Donald Trump on Putin and election meddling, on Sunday:
As to whether I believe it, I’m with our agencies.
“Our agencies” (CIA) on Putin and election meddling, on Saturday:
[Our] assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.
See the problem there? Donald Trump is in an impossible situation and there isn’t any way out of it.
The U.S. intelligence apparatus unequivocally says Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Donald Trump says they didn’t. But Donald Trump also says he’s “with [his] agencies.” It is simply impossible to say that Russia didn’t meddle in the election and then say you are “with” agencies who all say the exact opposite.
“I think chocolate ice cream is the best flavor of ice cream. My wife thinks chocolate ice cream is the worst flavor of ice cream. I’m with her.”
No you’re not with her. Because you just said chocolate ice cream is the best and she thinks it’s the worst. You cannot be both pro-chocolate ice cream and “with” someone who is anti-chocolate ice cream at the same time if what’s in question is chocolate ice cream. That doesn’t make any sense.
And that’s how stupid Trump imagines (correctly, I would add) his support base is. He is confident that large swaths of the American public will not see that as a position so untenable and schizophrenic as to either be itself evidence of collusion or else evidence of insanity.
On Sunday, during a speech in Hanoi, he tried the only end around he had left to explain the glaring inconsistency outlined above. Here’s what he said:
I believe that [Mr Putin] feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election.
So what he’s trying to do there is claim that when he said “I believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” he was actually saying that even if Russia did interfere with the election, Putin wasn’t involved.
Hopefully, you know why that contention is completely laughable. The idea that there would be a coordinated effort emanating from Russia to interfere in a U.S. election that Vladimir Putin was not aware of is about like saying there was collusion going on in the U.S. pancake market and no one told Aunt Jemima. There’s no such thing as plausible deniability when it comes to The Kremlin and Russian espionage.
Meanwhile, the same former US intelligence officials that Trump branded as “political hacks” on Saturday were out on Sunday offering up their thoughts on how the President is likely being manipulated by Putin and Xi. Here’s what Brennan and Clapper had to say about the election interference:
— CNN (@CNN) November 12, 2017
And here’s the entire interview:
For his part, Steve Mnuchin was in damage control mode. Here’s what he had to offer when given his turn on CNN:
Well, in all due respect to your previous guests, I think that those were the most ridiculous statements. President Trump is not getting played by anybody.
At the end of the day, this charade is becoming quite difficult to maintain. In the beginning, it was much easier to simply paint all of Trump’s detractors as part of a “deep state” conspiracy hell-bent on playing spoiler to the President’s populist agenda. But nearly 11 months and exactly zero major legislative accomplishments later, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is just what a whole lot of people said it was from the start: a historical accident of epic proportions helped along by a foreign power which took advantage of a clueless candidate and an equally clueless electorate to install someone Moscow thought would be a useful idiot.
The miscalculation for Putin seems to have been that he didn’t understand just how idiotic Trump truly is (he’s hardly alone in that regard, just ask Rex Tillerson).
So now Moscow gets to sit back like the rest of us and watch this slow motion train wreck unfold. That will be funny right up until Trump is impeached and/or indicted, at which point the Kremlin will have to figure out how to salvage some semblance of a working relationship with America. And something tells me that’s going to be quite difficult…
“Here you go Vlad. Do you see what happens? Do you see what happens when you fuck a hegemon in the ass?!”