Donald Trump's Idea About Russian Meddling In The Midterms Has Me Scratching My Head

by Chelsea Stewart
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

There is nothing more frustrating and confusing than all of the comments President Donald Trump has recently made regarding Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Over the past few days, Trump has implied that he trusted Russian President Vladimir Putin's claims that Russia hadn't meddled in the race — despite the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that they did, in fact, interfere. Then he retracted his statements, only to apparently retract the retraction, and so on. But Donald Trump's latest comments about Russian meddling might be the most mind-blowing and dizzying remarks he's given to date.

In a message shared to his Twitter page on Tuesday, July 24, Trump said he was "very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election" — which isn't exactly new information, given that the U.S. intelligence community has already assessed that Russia is in fact targeting the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.

However, instead of discussing the need to protect the midterms, Trump instead insisted the Russians will be "pushing very hard" for Democrats, because Trump has apparently been tougher on Russia than any of the presidents before him.

He wrote:

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!

We can't know for sure what prompted Trump's opinion, but it seems a little, well, weird. Several organizations within the intelligence community, including the CIA and the FBI, have determined that during the 2016 election Russia had a clear preference for the Republican candidate — namely, Trump. So it seems odd that they would suddenly change their minds, particularly since the Trump presidency has been so friendly to Russia. Despite Trump's claim that he's been super harsh on Russia, you wouldn't know it from what he's said recently, which has been so generous to Russia that it's been denounced by people across the political spectrum for promoting Russia's interests ahead of America's own.

The tweet follows heavy backlash after Trump failed to rebuke Putin's claim that Russia hadn't interfered in the presidential election during a summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki, Finland on July 16 — despite the findings from the U.S. intelligence community that proved that yes, Russia did.. When speaking on the topic of Russia's meddling while standing next to Putin during a joint news conference, Trump told reporters, "President Putin just said it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be."

After receiving widespread condemnation from Democrats and Republicans alike for his comment, as well as from angry civilians, Trump rolled back on his comments. He explained on July 17 that he'd made an error when addressing the issue.

"In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would instead of wouldn't," he explained. "The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia."

But then he appeared to walk back the retraction the next day, when he seemingly told reporters "no" after he was asked if he still believed Russia was targeting the United States during a meeting of his Cabinet — triggering even more criticism. The White House, however, later claimed that Trump was saying "no" to answering more questions.

Although Trump continues to go back and forth on his stance regarding Russia's meddling, Putin seems clearer. The Russian president told reporters at the Finland summit that he wanted Trump to win the 2016 election.

"Yes, I did, because he was the one who wanted to normalize relations with Russia,” Putin said.

So what's up with Trump and Russia at this point? Who knows. But in the meantime, can someone please password-protect the midterms, at the very least?