During an interview on Fox News Sunday, incoming Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus refused to deny that Trump coordinated or communicated with Russia during the campaign. Instead of a denial, Priebus tried to turn Russian election interference into a partisan issue.
Transcript via Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: Two questions. One, do you flatly deny any contact, any coordination between Mr. Trump, his campaign, his associates and the Russians in interfering?
PRIEBUS: Even this question is insane. Of course, we didn’t interface with the Russians. I mean, this whole thing is a spin job. And I think what the Democrats ought to do is look in the mirror and face the reality that they lost the election. And they lost the election because they’re so and completely out of touch with the American people that they’re so shell-shocked and they can’t believe it.
And what is their response? Recounts, Russians, leaked CIA reports, and now the press secretary of the president saying that the reason Hillary Clinton lost wasn’t because she blew it in Benghazi, she blew it with Russia, she blew it as secretary of state, she ignored the entire Midwest, and people didn’t like the product. That’s why Hillary Clinton lost.
What Trump’s incoming chief of staff offered up was a dodge, “the question is absurd,” and a non-answer, “Hillary Clinton blew it.” Nowhere in Priebus’s dodge does he flatly deny that Trump coordinated or had contact with Russia during the campaign. The idea of the Trump campaign coordinating with Russia is more difficult to prove, but the idea of a US presidential candidate being in contact with a hostile foreign actor during the campaign needs to be investigated.
Priebus’s non-answer should give any member of Congress who is considering investigating the Trump/Russia connection cause for pause. Priebus could have easily said that the question was absurd. Of course, Donald Trump didn’t coordinate or communicate with the Russians. What Trump’s chief of staff did was something very different. He tried to delegitimize concerns about Russian election interference by turning it into a partisan political issue.
Those who examine Reince Priebus’s answer closely will see an attempt to redirect instead of a denial.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association