Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to the ongoing Russia investigation as the “single greatest witch hunt in political history.” In tweets, through his press secretaries, in speeches, and interviews, Trump has pushed back on what seem to be solid facts emerging from the investigation.
Here’s a central (and basic) question: If there’s no connection between President Trump’s campaign and Russian efforts to influence the election, why is he consistently misleading the public about what happened? If he didn’t do anything wrong, why is he lying?
Trump’s boldest misleading statements on Russia include:
- Trump dictated Donald Trump Jr.’s misleading initial statement after news broke that Trump Jr. took a meeting with three Russians under the pretext that they would give him opposition research on Hillary Clinton.
- On June 22, Trump tweeted that former Homeland Security Adviser Jeh Johnson stated there was “no grand scheme between Trump & Russia.” This is demonstrably false.
- He has on several occasions cited former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as exonerating him by saying he had never seen evidence of collusion. The fact that Clapper had not seen evidence does not mean that Trump was not being investigated nor does it mean that there was no effort to conspire with a foreign government to influence the outcome of a presidential election.
- As recently as July 6, Donald Trump was still calling into question the widely accepted conclusion that Russia attempted to influence the presidential election last year.
Most of those who voted for Donald Trump last year were clear-eyed about his grasp of the truth. In fact a new poll out yesterday confirms that over 60% of Americans believe Trump “is not honest.” Trump has little reason to stop lying since his hard core supporters are likely to believe him no matter what and a majority of Americans already treat what he says with distrust.