It’s probably fair to say Robert Mueller’s public remarks left Donald Trump even more rattled than usual. This morning, for example, the president argued via Twitter that the special counsel “would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!”
Perhaps Trump didn’t see Mueller’s remarks yesterday. Alternatively, maybe Trump saw them but didn’t understand what the retiring special counsel had to say.
Soon after, the president published some additional thoughts on the matter, which included one highly provocative concession:
“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax. And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist.
“So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media, say he fought back against this phony crime that didn’t exist, this horrendous false acquisition, and he shouldn’t fight back, he should just sit back and take it. Could this be Obstruction? No, Mueller didn’t find Obstruction either. Presidential Harassment!”
There’s quite a bit of nonsense in the missives, but I’d draw your attention to one specific thing: “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”
Oh. So from Trump’s perspective, Russia helped elect him, but he personally had nothing to do with the foreign adversary’s illegal election interference.
I’m occasionally reminded of Michael Kinsely’s old joke about politicians who make a mistake by accidentally telling the truth.
The president then deleted those tweets, only to republish the same thought soon after, changing “false acquisition” to “false accusation.”
The important line – “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected” – appeared in both the original and the corrected texts.
As far as I can tell, this the first time Trump publicly acknowledged Russia’s role in elevating him to power.
Perhaps unaware of the significance of what he’d just told the world, the president seemed to walk back his own assertions soon after. During a brief Q&A with reporters at the White House, he said, “No, Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all.”
That was not only at odds with everything we know about reality, it also contradicted what he’d published to Twitter less than an hour earlier.
Update: To the extent that reality still matters, when Trump inadvertently admitted that Russia helped elect him, that was accurate.