President Donald Trump continued to try and defend himself today amid the wave of criticism that has followed his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week. Trump tweeted out a clip of the times he mentioned Russia was involved in meddling in the 2016 election, trying to quiet the complaints that grew after he refused to condemn the country in front of Putin.
However, all of the clips in the video don’t show Trump definitively saying Russia interfered in the election—and many times feature him hedging the statement by claiming other countries could have interfered as well.
The video features Trump talking about Russia’s alleged election interference on January 11, 2017, July 6, 2017, and March 6, 2018.
In all of the clips, the president says he “thinks” Russia was behind the election interference, a notion supported by the intelligence community and indictments filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but also show Trump leaving open the possibility that other countries were involved as well, something that has not been corroborated by intelligence officials.
“Trump recognized Russian Meddling MANY TIMES” pic.twitter.com/T8MERS93wI— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2018
The clip was played by Fox & Friends, a morning talk show Trump is known to favor, on Thursday morning, according to Mediaite.
While Trump continued to say he thought other countries may have been involved several times in the clip, CNN reported on Thursday that the president was briefed on Russia’s election interference on January 6, 2016, according to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Trump’s attempt at defending himself was immediately skewered online, with people pointing out that each of the clips in his Twitter video showed him hedging his statements about Russia’s interference.
Does Trump realize this doesn't help his case. In every example, he minimizes Russia's interference in our election by arguing that other countries and other people were probably involved also. Who knows? Maybe it was that 400-pound hacker he talked about. https://t.co/lI2wKhZxgB— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) July 19, 2018
1. Russia, but China.— Morten Øverbye (@morten) July 19, 2018
2. Russia, but other people.
3. Russia, but probably other people.
4. Russia, but probably others also.
5. Russians had no impact, but probably meddling from other countries and individuals. https://t.co/QthX0YXKL1
So Trump now desperately wants to show that he has acknowledged that Russia interfered with our election, but the best he can do is a montage of him deflecting from that and blaming "other people and countries." https://t.co/5ciUTAHg7S— John Iadarola (@johniadarola) July 19, 2018
In this 54-second video meant to prove that Trump recognizes Russian meddling, Trump denies the US intelligence community's consensus conclusion that Russia & Russia alone was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election no less than ten (10) times https://t.co/k9StDH2i9s— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 19, 2018
"Trump hedging and diverting blame from Russia by repeatedly mentioning that it could be just about anyone." https://t.co/YwZjE5rNgL— Bob Cesca (@bobcesca_go) July 19, 2018
The president has been attempting to control the damage since his press conference with Putin. On Tuesday, Trump said he should have said “wouldn’t” instead of “would” in a “key sentence” during his remarks, but no one bought the excuse and quickly turned it into a meme.