WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump can’t Twitter away significant questions — with more raised on Sunday — about Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election.
Trump shares his thinking with us through his Twitter posts, which provide valuable and historic insights into this chaotic presidency where the president’s obsessions are on naked display almost every day.
In a series of Sunday morning Twitter posts, Trump offered his version about a two-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, the first we heard from him, since he declined to hold a press conference in Germany.
“I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..
“…We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!
“Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..”
Let’s remember that just days ago, while in Warsaw, Trump wondered again if Russians interfered with the election, skeptical of the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did meddle.
“Well, I think it was Russia,” Trump said in Warsaw. “And I think it could have been other people in other countries. Could have been a lot of people interfered,” adding, “Nobody really knows for sure.”
What we don’t know from Trump himself is if he accepted Putin’s denial in that meeting that he had nothing to do with the elections. Trump didn’t think it important enough to make it clear since his opinion in Warsaw was not to believe U.S. intelligence evidence.
A digression: Trump got scorched Sunday shows about his wanting to work with the Russians on cybersecurity — talk about letting the fox into the hen house what with Russian hacking.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, R-S.C., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that was “not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.”
So much so that on Sunday night, Trump flip-flopped in another Twitter post:
“The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can,& did!,” a reference to a cease-fire in a slice of Syria.
End of digression.
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Trump wants to “move forward” with Russia even as four GOP-controlled congressional investigations and an independent probe led by former FBI chief Robert Mueller find more and more doors to open.
On Sunday night, the New York Times broke the story about Donald Trump Jr. confirming that he met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer who supposedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton — information he didn’t offer up in his first statement about the June 9, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower when the Times asked him.
The meeting included Trump Jr., then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Trump Jr. said in his statement to the Times that Veselnitskaya told him she had information about “individuals” with Russia ties “funding the Democratic National Committee” but she was peddling “no meaningful information.”
This story came to light because Kushner, a top Trump adviser, didn’t originally disclose the meeting with Veselnitskaya in filing out his forms for his security clearance, where he was required to disclose his foreign contacts.
All this came a day after Putin suggested at a Saturday press conference that Trump believed his denials about Russian meddling. “I think he took it into consideration and agreed with it. But you should ask him what his opinion is on that,” Putin said.
So Russia, Russia, Russia is here to stay, not withstanding the Trump/Putin meeting and the uncertainty about what they said.
What’s more important is to find out what happened — even as Trump wants to move forward.