Despite President Trump’s recent policy reversals, talk from within the administration claims he still personally wants better relations with Russia, though most of the officials within his administration supposedly disagree with him
Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. One thing however has not changed, which is that President Trump continues to reject the whole Russiagate story, including the allegations of collusion between his campaign team and the Russians.
President Trump made this clear today in an interview with CBS Face the Nation, in which he described the whole Russiagate story of collusion between his campaign team and the Russians as “phony”.
This is not surprising. Quite apart from the fact that there is no evidence of such collusion, President Trump would scarcely admit to it even if it actually happened.
What is actually far more interesting is that President Trump also continued to cast doubt on the starting point of the Russiagate scandal, the claim that the Russians hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers and passed on the emails they stole from there to Wikileaks.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I have a problem. You have Podesta, who, by the way, I understand has a company with his brother in Russia. Hillary’s husband makes speeches in Russia. Hillary did a uranium deal with Russia. Nobody ever talks about that. But I don’t know–
JOHN DICKERSON: You don’t–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –because the F.B.I. was not allowed by Podesta to go in and check all of the records on their servers and everything else that you would normally have to check. That’s number one.
Number two, knowing something about hacking, if you don’t catch a hacker, okay, in the act, it’s very hard to say who did the hacking. With that being said, I’ll go along with Russia. Could’ve been China, could’ve been a lot of different groups.
JOHN DICKERSON: So President Donald Trump is ambivalent–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But it could’ve–
JOHN DICKERSON: –about or not ambivalent, you’re not just not sure?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No. We have to find out what happened. I’d love to find out what happened.
JOHN DICKERSON: But you don’t think it’s the Russians–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I can tell you one thing. Had nothing to do with us. Had nothing to do with this, and everyone knows it. And by the way, even my enemies on your show said, “We haven’t found anything that the Trump campaign did wrong.”
JOHN DICKERON: But–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Do you agree with that?
JOHN DICKERSON: But there is agreement in the intelligence communities and other places and investigative communities on the Hill that Russia was–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’m okay with it.
JOHN DICKERSON: –involved in the election.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Honestly, John, I’m okay. But why didn’t Podesta and the Democrats, why didn’t they allow the F.B.I. to eject the server? They hired some company who somebody said some pretty bad things about, to go and check their server and give the information. So they were hacked. Why didn’t they — the Democrats allow the F.B.I.? They told the F.B.I., “We are not going to allow you to do it.” Why did they do that? Why did they do that, John? Why wouldn’t they let the F.B.I. go in and check? And by the way, why didn’t the F.B.I. complain about it?
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President Trump is right to cast doubt on the claim that the Russians hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers and passed on their stolen emails to Wikileaks. The evidence that the Russians hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers has been challenged by a host of IT experts, and as I have recently pointed out FBI Director Comey has admitted that the US intelligence community does not actually know that the Russians passed on the stolen emails to Wikileaks.
However it is no exaggeration to say that President Trump is possibly the last remaining office holder in Washington to cast doubt on this claim, which has become accepted within official Washington as indisputable and incontrovertible truth.
Whether, given the degree to which official Washington now treats the Russian hacking allegations as established truth, President Trump’s doubts will have any bearing on subsequent events is another matter. The answer is probably not.
However it is nonetheless interesting that despite having access to all the intelligence President Trump still retains his doubts, and is still prepared to express them in public.