Sunday, March 3, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said that his attempts to coordinate with the Russian government were a "joke."

Trump spent much of his lengthy and rambling speech to a conservative group this morning proclaiming his own innocence. In particular, he attempted to walk back one of the most obviously damning pieces of evidence that links him to a criminal conspiracy with the Putin regime: the time he advanced it on live television.

After two and a half years of avoiding the subject, this is what Trump is now asking his supporters to believe:

I’ve learned, because with the fake news, if you tell a joke, if you’re sarcastic, if you’re having fun with the audience, if you're in live television with millions of people and twenty-five thousand people in an arena, and if you say something like "Russia, please if you can, get us Hillary Clinton’s emails, please, Russia, please, please get us the emails. Please!" So everybody is having a good time, I’m laughing, we’re all having fun. Then that fake CNN and others say, ‘He asked Russia to go get the emails. Horrible,’ I mean, I saw it like two weeks ago. I'm watching, and they're talking about, one of the pundits. "He asked Russia for the -e-mails." These people are sick, and I’m telling you, they know the game and they play it dirty, dirtier than anybody has ever played the game.

At the time, Trump reacted angrily to the suggestion that he was anything other than dead serious in his request to have a foreign power interfere in an American election, snapping at NBC reporter Katy Tur to "be quiet!" when she tried to follow up on her question about it.

TUR: Do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government, Russia, China, anybody, to interfere, to hack into a system of anybody’s in this country? 
TRUMP: It's up to the president, let the president talk to them. Look, here's the problem. Here's the problem, Katy. Katy, here's the problem. Very simple. He has no respect— 
TUR: You said, I welcome him to find those thirty thousand e-mails— 
TRUMP: Well, they probably have them! I'd like to have them released. 
TUR: Does that not give you pause? 
TRUMP: No, that gives me no pause. If they have them, they have them. Hey, you know what gives me more pause, that a person in our government, crooked Hillary Clinton—be quiet, I know you want to, you know, save her. That a person in our government, Katy, would delete or get rid of 33,000 emails. That gives me a big problem. Now, if Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.

Russian agents, since indicted by the independent counsel investigating the Russian attack on Trump's behalf, responded the very same day with a cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee that ultimately helped sway the election.

Why does this matter?

  • Changing your story about incriminating evidence 31 months after the fact doesn't change the evidence.