In his interview with the Associated Press yesterday, Donald Trump dismissed the idea that his campaign cooperated with Russia as “the most preposterous, embarrassing thing.” In an interview with Fox Business that aired last night, the president pushed a similar line.
Trump also mocked the notion that his campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, one of the targets of Mueller’s ongoing probe.
“Do you think I called Russia? ‘I need help in Idaho.’ ‘I need help in Iowa.’ ‘Oh, let’s call Russia.’ It’s a con job,” Trump said.
Is this where the goalposts are now? Investigators need to find evidence of the president literally calling Russian operatives seeking direct assistance in individual states?
It’s easy to forget, but when questions surrounding Russia’s election attack first emerged, Trump World’s original argument was that the interference didn’t happen.
When that was discredited, the president and his team said there were no communications between the Republican campaign and Russia.
When that too was discredited, Team Trump said it never tried to cooperate with Russia during its espionage operation.
When the Trump Tower meeting left that line in tatters, the president and his aides scrambled to find new places to put the goalposts. White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, for example, recently rejected the idea that Russia “directed and controlled” the Trump campaign – knocking down a claim no one made.
A variety of others eagerly pushed the line that collusion between the GOP campaign and Moscow may have happened, but we shouldn’t care if it did.
Last night, the president tried to redefine “collusion” to mean picking up the phone to explicitly ask an adversary for assistance in specific state contests.
About a year ago, Kellyanne Conway, trying to downplay the significance of the Trump-Russia scandal, argued in her best passive voice, “The goalposts have been moved.”
Apparently, that’s true. But who moved them?