During his monologue at the beginning of the cabinet meeting on Monday, Trump tried anything and everything to distract attention from his humiliating and dangerous performance at the NATO and Putin summits last week, including blaming Obama for any Russian interference. You have to ignore a lot of reality — his specialty, of course — to make that argument. He said:
Unlike previous administrations, my administration has and will continue to move aggressively to repeal any efforts and repel, we will stop it, we will repel it, any efforts to interfere in our elections. We’re doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018. And we have a lot of power. As you know, President Obama was given information just prior to the election, last election, 2016, and they decided not to do anything about it. The reason they decided that was pretty obvious to all. They thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election. And they didn’t think it was a big deal.
When I won the election, they thought it was a very big deal. And all of a sudden they went into action, but it was a little bit late. So he was given that in sharp contrast to the way it should be. And President Obama along with Brennan and Clapper and the whole group that you see on television now, probably getting paid a lot of money by your networks, they knew about Russia’s attempt to interfere in the election in September and they totally buried it.
And as I said, they buried it because they thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win. Turned out it didn’t happen that way.
There is only one part of that diatribe that is accurate — Obama was, in fact, given information about Russian interference prior to the election. Everything else here is a lie. When the intelligence agencies first became aware of the cyber-attacks on both our election systems and on the DNC servers and emails of Democratic leaders, they took those findings to Obama. He was rightly concerned about seeing as interfering in the election to help Hillary Clinton, so he went to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, showed them the evidence and said that the only way they could make this public without being seen as putting a thumb on the scale is to make a joint, public, bipartisan statement about it. McConnell refused to be a part of it.They also went directly to the Trump campaign and warned them about Russians seeking to infiltrate their apparatus and interfering in the election. How did the Trump campaign respond? He responded by publicly asking them to hack in and get Hillary’s missing 30,000 emails. And his closest aides, including his son, held meeting after meeting with Russian officials, before and after the election, and then “forgot” to mention those meetings on their disclosure forms. All of them. I mean every single Trump campaign official who met with Russian officials or go-betweens magically lost their memory of those meetings, and only those meetings. What a coinkydink.
And the FBI launched a counter-intelligence investigation. Trump’s response? To condemn it as a witch hunt and fire the man overseeing it because he wouldn’t publicly exonerate him while the investigation was only just getting started. In the meantime, they have trancripts and recordings of phone calls between Trump’s closest advisers, including Jared Kushner, seeking a backchannel for communication that would evade those very intelligence services that Trump now says he has such faith in, and of his national security adviser telling the Russians that they’ll get the sanctions lifted as soon as they can. He has now pleaded guilty to multiple felonies.
As Bill Clinton liked to say, this old dog just won’t hunt. I mean, it will satisfy his most tribalistic and deluded supporters, but no one with the ability to reason coherently could possibly find it anything but ridiculous and dishonest.