While President Trump reportedly spent the past few days “watching TV news and venting about the [Russia] investigation,” his public reaction to the scandal over Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer was limited to two brief comments praising his son’s “transparency” and calling him a “high quality person” caught up in “the greatest Witch Hunt in political history.”
In interviews on Wednesday, President Trump tried to mount a more compelling defense. He told Reuters that he wasn’t upset with his son for taking the meeting. After all, who among us wouldn’t jump at the chance to hear intelligence the Russians dug up in an attempt to influence the U.S. election in our favor?
“I think many people would have held that meeting,” Trump said.
“It was a 20-minute meeting, I guess, from what I’m hearing,” Trump added. “Many people, and many political pros, said everybody would do that.”
Then he raised more doubts about whether the Russians really meddled in the U.S. election, though the U.S. intelligence community concluded that they did:
Trump said he spent the first 20 or 25 minutes of his more than two-hour meeting with Putin last Friday in Germany on the election meddling subject.
“I said, ‘Did you do it?’ And he said, ‘No, I did not. Absolutely not.’ I then asked him a second time in a totally different way. He said absolutely not,” Trump said.
Asked if he believed Putin’s denial, Trump paused.
“Look. Something happened and we have to find out what it is, because we can’t allow a thing like that to happen to our election process. So something happened and we have to find out what it is,” he said.
About Putin, he added: “Somebody did say if he did do it, you wouldn’t have found out about it. Which is a very interesting point.”
Speaking of interesting points, what if the Russians didn’t even want Trump to win? In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson, Trump laid out his theory that Putin supported Hillary Clinton because, among other reasons, “He would like Hillary where she wants to have windmills.”
It’s something that you don’t like talking about, but again we are the most powerful country in the world, and we are getting more and more powerful because I’m a big military person. As an example, if Hillary had won, our military would be decimated. Our energy would be much more expensive. That’s what Putin doesn’t like about me. And that’s why I say, Why would he want me? Because from Day One I wanted a strong military; he doesn’t want to see that. And from Day One I want fracking and everything else to get energy prices low and to create tremendous energy. We’re going to be self-supporting — we just about are now. We’re going to be exporting energy. He doesn’t want that. He would like Hillary where she wants to have windmills. He would much rather have that because energy prices would go up and Russia, as you know, relies very much on energy. So there are many things that I do that are the exact opposite of what he would want. So what I keep hearing about that he would have rather had Trump, I think probably not because when I want a strong military — you know she wouldn’t have spent the money on military, when I want a strong military, when I want tremendous energy, we’re opening up coal, we’re opening up natural gas, we’re opening up fracking — all the things that he would hate, but nobody ever mentions that.
The part in the email chain where Rob Goldstone tells Trump Jr. that the “crown prosecutor” of Russia met with Trump’s friend Aras Agalarov to offer him incriminating information about Clinton, adding, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” suggests that’s not the case.
But this is all getting rather confusing. Thankfully, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway cleared things up in her Hannity interview on Wednesday night, with the help of some visual aids: