On Monday, June 26, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump was joking in July 2016 when Trump called on Russia to hack his then-opponent Hillary Clinton and release her missing emails.
Spicer said this after he was questioned by NBC News' Kristen Welker on the president's recent tweet claiming former President Barack Obama "colluded or obstructed" in relation to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Welker asked Spicer,
Is there an element of hypocrisy here? How can you accuse President Obama of obstructing when he was egging Russia on?
He was joking at the time. We all know that.
Do we really know that?
Back in July 2016, Trump said,
I will tell you this, Russia: If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
It was an incredibly bizarre moment in a campaign that was already very strange and highly controversial.
Trump also tweeted this in July 2016:
Even though Trump did eventually claim he was being sarcastic when he asked Russia to hack and release Clinton's email, Twitter isn't buying Spicer's explanation.
After Spicer claimed Trump was joking, many took to Twitter to challenge that assertion, and whipped out the receipts:
People are particularly skeptical of Spicer's explanation given Trump got into a heated exchange with NBC reporter Katy Tur when she challenged him on asking Russia to hack and release Clinton's emails.
Trump told Tur he had no qualms about what he said.
Tur took to Twitter to challenge Spicer's narrative as well.
So, yeah, it's a little hard to avoid rolling your eyes at Trump for saying Obama "colluded" with Russia when there's actual video of him asking the Russian government to hack his political opponent amid the U.S. presidential campaign.
It's also very difficult to believe his and Spicer's subsequent attempts to spin what he said.
I suppose it's up to you to decide for yourself.