In a Thursday morning tweet, President Donald Trump publicly acknowledged for the first time that Russia helped him “get elected” in the 2016 presidential election, a stunning admission that came while he continued to insist special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was a “Witch Hunt Hoax.”
The tweets, which were quickly deleted and then republished to fix a typo, follow a surprise press conference given on Wednesday by Robert Mueller in which the special counsel said that his office could neither clear the president of obstruction justice, nor, due to a longstanding Justice Department policy protecting the president from indictment, formally charge him.
“If we had had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller told reporters in his first public remarks in more than two years.
Moments after Mueller’s news conference, Trump took to Twitter to continue to claim innocence and declare that the “case is closed” in the Russia probe. His subsequent tweets, however, appear to contradict that very sentiment.
The rare, if brief, admission undercuts Trump’s persistent denials of Russia’s efforts to help him get elected as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to block legislation securing US elections from foreign interference. Amid the chaotic tweets, Hillary Clinton on Thursday condemned Trump for resisting calls to protect future elections.
The president hasn't just refused to condemn a foreign power that attacked our democracy. He's also failed to protect the country's voting systems against future attacks. He betrays his oath every day.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 30, 2019
Trump later walked back the acknowledgment, telling reporters, “No, Russia did not help me get elected.”
President Trump: "Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia did not help me at all." pic.twitter.com/B7Bb2M32Sq
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 30, 2019