President Donald Trump may have actually admitted what many claim to know for more than two years now: Russia helped elect him as president.
In a tweet storm pushing back against the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — no collusion with Russia, maybe obstruction of justice — Trump either on purpose or accidentally, as a grammar mistake, referred to Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
The key part there is “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.” In other words, the Kremlin tried to help him win, but he didn’t coordinate with them.
Just an hour later he told reporters that Russia had absolutely nothing to do with helping him win. “I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all,” the president said.
The tweet in question was the first time Trump said anything remotely close to Russia helping him in 2016. He’s long denied Moscow played any role whatsoever in influencing the 2016 presidential vote.
He’s relayed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stance that Moscow didn’t aim to sway the election in his favor. “I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said alongside the Russian leader in Helsinki last July.
Trump’s statements always contradicted what American intelligence and law enforcement officials said. In January 2017, the top US agencies — including the CIA and FBI — put out a public report saying that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” adding, “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”