In another stunning example of just how far this president will go to please the Russians that helped elect him last year, Donald Trump admitted on Saturday that he trusts Vladimir Putin when he denies any involvement in last year’s presidential election.
“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump said aboard Air Force One, according to CNN.
He continued: “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”
“I think he is very insulted by it,” Trump added.
Putin, a shrewd former KGB officer, has clearly figured out a way to get Trump to believe anything he’ll say, but the U.S. intelligence community – and the American people – have long understood that Russia was, in fact, behind the hack in last year’s presidential election.
As David Corn noted in a tweet on Saturday, every major agency in Trump’s own intelligence community believes Putin and Russia were behind the attack.
CIA chief Mike Pompeo: Putin attacked 2016 election.
DNI Dan Coats: Putin attacked 2016 election.
FBI director Christopher Wray: Putin attacked 2016 election.
NSA head Mike Rogers: Putin attacked 2016 election.
Putin: I did not attack 2016 election.
Trump: I believe Putin.
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) November 11, 2017
At the end of the day, this is really about Trump knowing that Russia’s involvement in the 2016 campaign calling into question the entire legitimacy of his presidency. He knows that his time in the White House will forever have an asterisk next to it because a foreign adversary helped make it possible, perhaps with the assistance of his own campaign.
Still, Trump will likely continue casting doubt on the notion that Moscow was involved in the attack on the presidential election because he is unable and unwilling to take his ego out of the equation.
In the reality-based world, though, the entire intelligence community and the American people have already moved on. They know that Russia helped install Donald Trump to the presidency in last year’s election, and they are increasingly looking to future elections to right that wrong.