On Saturday morning, two days before he meets with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, President Trump once again blamed President Obama for failing to prevent the Russian hacking of Democratic National Committee servers in 2016.
The accusation isn’t new; Trump has leveled it against his arch-nemesis predecessor several times since he became president. (Never mind that Obama did attempt to issue a bipartisan warning about Russian election interference in autumn 2016, and was rebuffed by Mitch McConnell.) But this time, it came with a twist.
On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled an indictment of 12 Russians whom he has accused of the breach. One of the most eye-opening tidbits from the 29-page document Mueller’s team produced concerned Trump’s possible complicity in the very act he is accusing Obama of underplaying.
On July 27, 2016, Trump famously said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think that you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Mueller’s indictment states that later that very night, Russian hackers became much more brazen: They “attempted after hours to spear-phish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or about the same time, they also targeted 76 email addresses at the domain for the Clinton campaign.”
The Trump administration later claimed his invitation was a “joke” — a catch-all excuse for some of the president’s more inflammatory comments.
While the timing of Trump’s plea and the newfound Russian aggression could have been a coincidence, it’s easy enough to imagine that the hackers took the then-candidate’s challenge both seriously and literally.
In that case, Trump’s tweet was blaming Obama for a crime that Trump himself aided and abetted.
This truly is the “why are you hitting yourself?” presidency.