- President Donald Trump insisted there was no collusion in a series of tweets Saturday.
- He also said the Russians started conspiring against the US “long before” his 2016 run for president.
- Trump’s tweets come a day after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three companies for their involvement in meddling in US politics beginning in 2014.
President Donald Trump lashed out at the “Fake News Media” in a series of tweets Saturday in which he distanced himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
On Friday, Mueller’s office charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies with violating US law and interfering in the US political system. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments during a press conference, saying that Russians began preparing their interference campaign in 2014. He added that the indictment did not contain allegations of any effect on the outcome of the race.
“Funny how the Fake News Media doesn’t want to say that the Russian group was formed in 2014, long before my run for President,” Trump said in a tweet. “Maybe they knew I was going to run even though I didn’t know!”
Several journalists, including New York Magazine correspondent Olivia Nuzzi, corrected the president’s assertion.
“When I interviewed Trump in November 2014, he told me he was considering 2016,” Nuzzi said in a tweet Saturday.
She then linked to an article she published while she was working for The Daily Beast in December of that year that was titled, ‘Trump is thinking about a run at the White House again.”
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman also noted that Trump had been considering a 2016 presidential run since 2014, though it’s unclear whether she made the statement in reference to Nuzzi’s story or another report.
Trump has flirted with running for president for decades. In 1999, he established an exploratory committee and briefly ran as Reform Party candidate. He also hinted at a run in 2012.
Shortly after Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama that year, Trump had his lawyers trademark the slogan, “Make America Great Again” for “political action committee services, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues and fundraising in the field of politics,” The Washington Post reported last year.
Trump exonerates himself
The charges brought against the Russians by Mueller were hailed as a triumph by a president who frequently complains on Twitter and to advisers about the Russia investigation, which he has characterised as a “hoax,” a “witch hunt,” and “fake news.” He has also cast doubt on the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia’s efforts were undertaken in an effort to boost him to the presidency.
In several tweets on Saturday, Trump cited a New York Post columnist and Facebook’s vice president of ads to support his claims.
“‘Charges Deal Don A Big Win,'” written by Michael Goodwin of the @nypost, succinctly states that ‘the Russians had no impact on the election results.’ There was no Collusion with the Trump Campaign. ‘She lost the old-fashioned way, by being a terrible candidate. Case closed,'” Trump said.
Friday’s indictment did not accuse any Americans of being knowingly involved in Russia’s influence operation, but experts said the charges are likely an avenue to the next step: determining whether any US citizens or, more narrowly, members of Trump’s campaign had knowledge of, aided, or abetted the Russian effort.
In addition to examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow, Mueller is also conducting a parallel investigation into whether Trump sought to obstruct justice in the Russia probe when he fired FBI director James Comey last May.
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