the national interest

Donald Trump Denies Thing That 66 Million People Watched With Their Own Eyes As It Happened

Kellyanne Conway’s messaging advice needs some work. Photo: Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

When presented with the hair-raising evidence that Russian intelligence carried out a successful plan to pick the government of the United States, a principled president-elect would respond with horror and a determination to expose the attack and prevent any recurrence. An unprincipled president-elect would try to make the story disappear by picking away at the evidence around the margins: Russian involvement may be a fact, but while it’s probable that the hacks swung enough votes to decide a very tight race, and it’s extremely likely that Russia specifically hoped to help Trump win, neither of these conclusions can be proven. But the incoming Trump administration is instead going for option No. 3: flat-out lies.

Donald Trump insists that if Russia committed the hacks the White House would have said something earlier:

In fact, it did say something before the election. Here is the first sentence of Ellen Nakashima’s October 7 Washington Post report: “The Obama administration on Friday officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections, including by hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations.” Trump was even presented with this information onstage at a presidential debate, where he dismissed it. What’s astonishing is that Trump is not only denying the substance of the accusation, he’s denying that the accusation was even made. Let this sink in: The president-elect of the United States is insisting that something that was witnessed on national television by more than 66 million people never happened.

Meanwhile, his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, smarmily insists any mention of Russian interference is an attack on the peaceful transfer of power:

That is just remarkable. That is breathtaking. I guess he’s auditioning to be a political pundit after his job is over soon. That is incredibly disappointing to hear from the podium of the White House press secretary. Because he basically — he essentially stated that the president-elect had knowledge of this, maybe even fanned the flames. It’s incredibly irresponsible and I wonder if his boss, President Obama, agrees.

I think coming from the podium and basically trying to relitigate a political campaign when the president and the president-elect and their senior staff are trying to work together very closely to have a peaceful transition of power in a great democracy with just about a month plus to go, I find it to be very unfortunate.

Notice, Conway isn’t directly challenging the truth of the allegation, she’s just calling it “remarkable” and “breathtaking” and “disappointing” and “unfortunate” that people mention it in public. That’s how professional liars in Washington do it. 

Trump Denies Thing That 66 Million People Saw Happen