FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2016 file photo, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to speak to a campaign rally in Raleigh, N...
Evan Vucci

As the Russia scandal intensifies, Trump moves the goalposts

Kellyanne Conway, trying to downplay the significance of the Trump-Russia scandal, argued a few weeks ago, “The goalposts have been moved.”

If that’s true, it’s Donald Trump and his team who’ve moved them.

The original line from Trump World was that Russia didn’t intervene in the American election. When that position was no longer sustainable, Trump and his team said Russia may have intervened, but no one from the Republican campaign was in communications with Russia during the foreign adversary’s espionage operation.

When that line was discredited, Trump World changed gears again, saying members of Trump’s team may have connected with Putin’s government during the attack, but there was no collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

After this was also proven to be wrong – top members of Trump’s inner circle met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in order to receive campaign assistance from Putin’s government – the president delivered a new line to a supportive West Virginia audience last night.

The president called probes into alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election “demeaning” and “fake.”

“Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign – there never were,” Trump said.

I guess this is the new line? Russia attacked the election, took steps to put Trump in power, communicated with members of Trump’s team during the attack, and colluded with the Trump campaign – but don’t worry, Trump didn’t literally put Russians on the campaign payroll, so there’s no need to make a fuss.

What was that Kellyanne Conway was saying about the goalposts being moved?

Postscript: For the record, Trump’s claim that there were no Russians on his campaign team isn’t even true. Boris Epshteyn, who was born in Moscow, was a prominent member of Trump/Pence 2016 and briefly served in the White House before becoming a conservative pundit for the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Donald Trump, Russia and Scandals

As the Russia scandal intensifies, Trump moves the goalposts