President Donald Trump now claims he had never said Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election, despite suggesting on numerous occasions that he believes the special counsel probe into the interference is “fake news.”
Taking to Twitter on Sunday, Trump insisted he was not at odds with the widely held view of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had attempted to influence the outcome of the U.S. election, but insisted his team had not colluded with Russia.
“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said 'it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer,'" he tweeted.
"The Russian 'hoax' was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia - it never did!" Trump added.
I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia - it never did!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
His comments came hours after a tweet attacking the FBI late Saturday evening that blasted the bureau for spending too much time trying to "prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign” rather than attempting to prevent mass shootings.
The president's Saturday night and Sunday morning tweetstorm follow the Friday indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of 13 Russian nationals for allegedly meddling in the election through a multi-year cyber attack.
Trump’s assertion that he has never dismissed the idea that Russia tried to meddle in the election comes in stark contrast with previous comments he has made on the subject; which he has referred to a hoax, fake news, and a witchhunt on various occasions.
Following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November last year, Trump said he was reticent to push Putin on the meddling claims.
“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. I think he is very insulted by it,” Trump said in comments he was later forced to walk back after it appeared his opinion contradicted that of U.S. intelligence agencies.
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