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Ignoring reality, Trump gets Russian interference backward (again)

The good news: Trump acknowledged Russian interference in our 2016 elections. The bad news: he thinks Russia tried to undermine him, reality be damned.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin listens while President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at Finland's Presidential Palace on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images file

At a campaign rally in Virginia on Friday night, Donald Trump did something highly unusual for him: the president acknowledged Russian interference in the U.S. elections four years ago.

That's the good news. The bad news is, he still managed to get reality backward.

"You have to go home and you've got to read these documents. And they now prove that Russia interfered in 2016. Unfortunately, it was on behalf of Hillary Clinton, not Trump."

It was just last month when the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released its comprehensive findings on Russia's 2016 attack, and as regular readers may recall, it brought several important elements into sharp focus.

The bipartisan findings left no doubt that Vladimir Putin's government targeted U.S. elections for the express purpose of helping elevate Donald Trump to power. The Republican's political operation sought Russian assistance, embraced Russian assistance, capitalized on Russian assistance, lied about Russian assistance, and took steps to obstruct the investigation into Russian assistance.

The GOP-led panel pointed to high-level connections and coordination between Trump's political operation and those responsible for the attack on our election. The Intelligence Committee's report at one point literally described a "direct tie between senior Trump Campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services."

And yet, there was the Republican president, pointing to "documents" that don't exist in reality, conceding that Russia targeted our election, but claiming that the Kremlin actually tried to help the one candidate that Russia went to great lengths to defeat.

Too often in Trump's mind, up is down, day is night, and wrong is right.

Update: Just as I was posting this, Politico had an interesting report noting Trump's meandering press conference from yesterday in which he repeatedly accused Hunter Biden of receiving millions of dollars from the wife of Moscow’s late mayor Yury Luzhkov. The Republican asked why “nobody even has any question about it.”

But as the article added, "Trump himself sought to do business with Luzhkov’s government in the late 1990s, according to press reports from the time, SEC filings and comments made by Luzhkov last year. His attempts to build an underground mall in Moscow and renovate two major hotels there were part of a broader push to secure high-profile real-estate deals in Russia, which Trump was still pursuing as recently as 2016 with a proposal for a Trump Tower Moscow."