the national interest

Trump Denies Russia Is Still Targeting U.S. Elections [Updated]

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Trump’s director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the “warning lights are blinking red again” on a Russia attack on the U.S. electoral system. “The digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack,” he warned. But President Trump appears much more sanguine. Asked by ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega if Russia was still targeting the country, Trump replied “no.”

Perhaps un-coincidentally, Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and, presumably, going forward is designed to benefit Trump. Russia has every incentive to continue its support for Trump and his party. Indeed, its incentive is stronger now than in 2016, since furious Democrats are likely to implement much tougher anti-Russia policies if they regain power.

Trump’s Republican allies are trying to pretend that Trump has abandoned his denial of Russian interference. But his scripted comments yesterday were a pathetically thin veneer of concern, and Trump is determined to show the world he doesn’t mean it at all.

Update: Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters today Trump was not denying Russia was actively targeting the U.S., but was instead saying he would not take any more questions. “The President said ‘thank you very much’ and said no to answering questions,” Sanders said. “The President and his administration are working very hard to make sure Russia is unable to meddle in our elections.”

It is possible she is right, but this seems unlikely. After supposedly saying he would not take questions, Trump continued to take questions. Vega, who conducted the exchange, believes Trump heard her clearly and was replying directly to her. “Yes, he was looking directly at me when he spoke,” tweeted, “Yes, I believe he heard me clearly. He answered two of my questions.”

Trump Denies Russia Is Still Targeting U.S. Elections