In a photo-op before a cabinet meeting today, Donald Trump appeared to deny that Russia is still targeting the U.S.
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not believe Russia is still targeting the United States, contradicting U.S. intelligence assessments that Moscow was continuing its attempts to meddle in American elections.
Trump on Tuesday tried to walk back comments that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin over American intelligence chiefs on Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying that he had misspoken a day earlier after a summit meeting with Putin in Helsinki.
Asked by reporters on Wednesday if Russia was still targeting the United States, Trump shook his head and said, “No.”
But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told a press briefing — the first since July 2 — that the president’s “no” referred to his refusal to take questions from the media.
Indeed, it appears that this was the case.
Sanders was besieged with questions over the summit during her first briefing in more than two weeks, which came about an hour after Trump contradicted his intelligence director by saying that he did not believe Russia was a threat to the United States.
Sanders said Trump had not answered “no” to a question about whether Russia was a threat, but to whether he would take questions from reporters brought in for the opening of a Cabinet meeting.
But the president just can’t keep his mouth shut. He made the preposterous statement that “no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia,” responding to a media question that 30 seconds previously he said he wouldn’t take. Perhaps when Trump wins another cold war, or faces down the Russians while nuclear missiles are 90 miles from our shore, he can make that statement. Until then, sit down and shut up.
I’m sure all of this confusion and incoherence is part of some brilliant Trumpian scheme to befuddle his enemies, cheer his supporters, and make the media look bad. After all, Trump is Machiavelli reborn — wheels within wheels, his brilliant mind endlessly turning, churning and spitting out strategy in 3 dimensions. Tomorrow, we will read again from the pro-Trump media how brilliantly Trump is trolling his foes, driving them insane by exposing their hate and hysteria. Forget Machiavelli, Trump is in a class all his own when it comes to playing and manipulating his enemies as well as his friends.
Or maybe he is a doltish dumbass and the joke is on us.