Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 president election caught fire on February 16th with the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies. And not long after, President Donald Trump scrambled to blame Democratic politicians for the Russian meddling in a late-night tweetstorm.
Trump began his tweets by blaming former President Barack Obama for not preventing Russian interference in the election. On February 19th, he quoted the former president as saying that “there is no evidence” of any presidential election being rigged. Trump’s tweets implied that quote is proof that Russia had not tampered with the 2016 presidential election and that the “Russian excuse” was a partisan way to dismiss Hillary Clinton’s loss of the election. However, as Vox noted, the October 2016 quote from Obama was actually in reference to Trump’s complaints that voter fraud could cause a Clinton victory.
Less than 24 hours before, Trump had questioned why Obama hadn’t done anything about Russian meddling in the election as president, seemingly blaming Obama for what he would later dismiss as the Democrats’ excuse for their 2016 defeat.
Trump’s response to Mueller’s latest indictment has been inconsistent in its approach. He first responded on February 17th by tweeting that Russians hadn’t affected the election’s outcome at all and that “the only Collusion was between Russia, Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.” He then later denied that he had ever said Russia didn’t interfere in the election, even though he has said this many times.
So, to recap, Trump has blamed the Russian interference in the 2016 election on Clinton, Democrats, and Obama, all while insisting that the Russia investigation is a distraction and that Russian meddling didn’t affect the election outcome.
The president has yet to hold Russia accountable for hacking during the presidential campaign. Meanwhile, 17 United States intelligence agencies have agreed that Russian hackers attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election. And prominent Republicans, like former President George W. Bush, also agree with this verdict.
Mueller may be investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, but these latest indictments involve people outside his campaign. Rather than pointing fingers at others, the president needs to acknowledge that Russian meddling in the 2016 election was real and serious. No foreign power should be able to affect our electoral process. This is a matter of national security, not partisan politics. We need our president to acknowledge what happened and take steps to prevent any future hacking.