It’s a Republican talking point: Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election, but it didn’t affect the outcome.
President Donald Trump repeatedly claims that no votes were affected — even on occasions when he acknowledges Russian meddling at all. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who says he is “1,000 percent certain that the Russians interfered in our election,” also insists it made no difference electorally. He recently tweeted: “Russia didn’t beat Clinton. Trump beat Clinton.”
Meddling & collusion are NOT the same thing.
Russia did meddle in 2016 election & are trying it again. I’ve seen no evidence of collusion, plenty evidence of Russian meddling.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who as director of the Central Intelligence Agency helped oversee the investigation of Russian interference, has even gone so far as to assert that the intelligence community reached the same conclusion that Russian sabotage had minimal impact.
And on Tuesday, Trump one-upped all of them by claiming that Russia “will be pushing very hard for Democrats” in the 2018 midterm elections.
I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
It’s hard to prove that Russia’s use of phony trolls and social media and its theft of email messages from prominent Democrats is what elected Trump. In an election as close as the 2016 balloting, many factors are always at play, and tactical errors by the Hillary Clinton campaign, her own shortcomings as a candidate and rogue public criticism of Clinton by FBI Director James Comey all figured in Trump’s victory.
But Pompeo was factually wrong about one thing: The intelligence community reached no conclusion about what did propel Trump to victory, at least not in public.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper now says the evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin swung the election to Trump “is staggering.” Noting that fewer than 80,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin…