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The latest news is that:

[Journalist:] Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did.

What — who — my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?

My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?

TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server — haven’t they taken the server. Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee?

I’ve been wondering that, I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.

I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server.

But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I — I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server.

A lot of the press interpreted that as Trump siding with Putin against his own intelligence advisers.

On the other hand, I remberer reading some weeks ago, on Jul 4 more precisely that:

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, asked by reporters on Tuesday about the Senate panel's report while travelling with Mr Trump on Air Force One to West Virginia, said: "The president has been very clear and has said it many times that he feels the Russians meddled in the election."

So that looks like a fundamental change in Trump's position on the matter. Has there been any (sufficiently authoritative) commentary reconciling this apparent contradiction? (E.g. Did his spokesman misspoke on Jul 4? The press transcribed it it wrong? Or on Jul 16, did Trump merely reject one narrow aspect of the interference, the specific server business? Has he clarified what he meant later on?)

It's hard to find another, recent and unambiguous statement of Trump on the matter. One that I did find

"As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,"

goes back to January 2017 which is like 18 months ago (there a video of that too). But a lot of stuff happened since Jan 2017; I want to know if Trump's position on the matter can be charted in recent times, besides the press conference with Putin.

  • 2
    FiveThirtyEight podcast advanced a bunch of theories as to the reasons. The one that (for obvious reasons) gets largely ignored by the liberal media is that Trump is reluctant to cede any ground (even factually obvious ones) on the topic because to do so would seem like a concession to people questioning legitimacy of his election domestically. – user4012 Jul 17 '18 at 17:01
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    The FBI not investigating the DNC server is a valid concern. He has mentioned it for at least a year which seems pretty consistent. – user_42 Jul 17 '18 at 17:41
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    I think this article is the closest you will get to the truth of the matter: washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/… – K Dog Jul 17 '18 at 18:46
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    It should also be noted that Trump just walked back the quoted statement above: twitter.com/krassenstein/status/1019295911439200257 (so, he's not even consistent in the timespan it takes to post a question asking if he's consistent :) – user1530 Jul 17 '18 at 19:33
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    As an admin, I really get a kick out of picturing someone taking a Dell and setting it at President Trump's feet. – CGCampbell Jul 18 '18 at 16:47
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Breaking news (hat tip to @blip): Trump said he misspoke in the joint news conference::

President Donald Trump attempted on Tuesday to clarify his widely criticized comments in Helsinki, saying that he had misspoken when he said a day earlier that he did not see why Russia would have meddled in the election. Trump said Tuesday he meant to say he did not see any reason why it wouldn't have been Russia that interfered.

"I thought that I made myself very clear, but having just reviewed the transcript...I realized that there is a need for some clarification," Trump said Tuesday at the White House. "The sentence should have been...'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia'. [...]

"I have felt very strongly that while Russia's actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying...that I accept our American intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place," the president said.

But, Trump added, "Could be other people also, there’s a lot of people out there."

(Also video.) This is actually along the lines of his statement in March, see below.


Thanks to KDog's pointer, the nearest previous point in time which Trump unambiguously admitted meddling (but not with respect to very specific events), was in March 2018:

"The Russians had no impact on our votes,” Mr Trump told reporters at a news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. “Certainly there was meddling. Probably there was meddling from other countries.”

(Also there's video of that). And in the "pointer" article in Washington Examiner, there's also a "chart" of Trump's position in the matter:

Hours after the news conference, the White House sent out a fact sheet noting that Trump "has repeatedly said he believes the intelligence agencies when they said Russia interfered in American elections." Among those times, according to the White House: In January 2017, Trump said, "I think it was Russia." He said precisely the same thing again in July 2017. In November 2017, he said, "I'm with our agencies." And in March of this year, he said, "certainly there was meddling."

On some of those occasions, Trump conceded the Russian effort (in minimal fashion) only after initially denying it, or casting doubt on it, and coming under the same sort of media pressure he is under today. Now, he's likely to have to do it again.

I guess that with these in mind his spokesperson's statement from June 4 doesn't seem so odd anymore.

I've actually looked at some of Trump's tweets since then, particularly right before the meeting with Putin but they are fairly ambiguous with respect to actually laying blame on Russia:

  • jul 15:

    Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!
    President Obama thought that Crooked Hillary was going to win the election, so when he was informed by the FBI about Russian Meddling, he said it couldn’t happen, was no big deal, & did NOTHING about it. When I won it became a big deal and the Rigged Witch Hunt headed by Strzok!

  • jul 14:

    The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration. Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?
    These Russian individuals did their work during the Obama years. Why didn’t Obama do something about it? Because he thought Crooked Hillary Clinton would win, that’s why. Had nothing to do with the Trump Administration, but Fake News doesn’t want to report the truth, as usual!

So these may have hinted at a change in course, or not... depending how inclined one is to read between the lines.


And PBS has even made a retrospective article "The many different ways Trump has described Putin and Russian election interference".

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    The point of that article, btw, is that Trump's ego-centrism--or maybe his self-preservation instincts-- prevents him from separating Russian meddling, a demonstrable fact, from the Russian collusion fabulations, which demonstrably originated from Clinton opposition research with malice aforethought. Note that the Media has the same problem as Trump does in this regard – K Dog Jul 18 '18 at 12:09

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