Trump Downplays Russian Election Meddling Yet Again – NBCNews.com

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Trump once again downplays Russia’s meddling in 2016 election

Here are four undeniable facts when it comes to President Trump and Russia: One, Trump is set to meet Friday with Russian President Vladimir at the G20 summit. Two, Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, according to U.S. intelligence agencies. (“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the intel community said publicly back in January.) Three, Trump has taken little to no action to punish Russia or try to prevent future interference. And four, Trump continues to downplay what Russia did in last year’s presidential election — as he did at a news conference in Poland earlier this morning.

NBC’s Hallie Jackson: Mr. President, can you once and for all, yes or no, definitively say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?

Trump: Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. Could have been a lot of people interfered… [Barack Obama] did nothing about it. The reason is, he thought Hillary was going to win. If he thought I was going to win, he would have plenty about it. So that’s the real question — why did he do nothing from August all the way to November 8th? His people said he choked. I don’t think he choked.

NBC’s Jackson: You again said you *think* it was Russia. Your intelligence agencies have been far more definitive. They say it was Russia. Why won’t you agree with them and say it was?

Trump: I agree, I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows for sure. I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction. How everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what — that led to one big mess. They were wrong.

It’s easy to become numb to Trump once again downplaying Russia’s interference in the 2016 election (in Poland of all places!), criticizing the U.S intelligence community, and blasting the American news media following him. But this is more than being unpresidential and undignified — it’s all against the interests of the United States of America, all ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with Putin.

Here are six other times Trump denied — or downplayed — that Russia interfered in the 2016 race, despite his intelligence briefings as a candidate, president-elect, or president

1. “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. [Hillary Clinton’s] saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don’t — maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK? You don’t know who broke in to DNC.” (First presidential debate, 9/26/2016)

2. “But I notice, anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians are — [Clinton] doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia.” (Second presidential debate, 10/9/2016)

3. “Unless you catch ‘hackers’ in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn’t this brought up before election? (Trump tweet, 12/12/06)

4. “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” adding later: “it could have been others also.” (Trump news conference, 1/11/2017)

5. “You can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a, you know, fake news, fabricated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats and the press plays right into it.” (Trump news conference, 2/16/2017)

6. “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony … Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. (Trump tweets, 5/2/17)

By the way, our latest NBC/WSJ poll found a majority of Americans (53%) saying that Russia DID interfere in the 2016 election, while only a quarter of Republican respondents (26%) agreed — with two-thirds of Republicans saying Russia did NOT interfere.