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Trump Said He Trusted Putin On Russian Election Interference, But John McCain Called Bullshit



Over the weekend, President Donald Trump suggested that he trusted Russia President Vladimir Putin’s word when the latter told him he didn’t engage in efforts to disrupt our elections last year.

“Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One.

The president also insinuated that the continued coverage of Russian meddling in our elections is bad for relations between our two nations — and hurtful to Putin himself.

“I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country,” Trump said.

Trump even went so far as to say that the intelligence community, which insists that Russia did in fact tamper with our elections through a disinformation campaign on our social media (and through other means, like attempting to hack our elections data), were only continuing to promulgate the story because they were “political hacks,” he told reporters.

That prompted a response from Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who wrote a lengthy rebuttal to Trump’s insistence that the Russian story is somehow “fake news.”

In his statement, McCain wrote:

President Trump today stated that he believed Vladimir Putin is being sincere when he denies Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and reiterated that he hopes to cooperate with Russia in Syria. There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community. 

“Vladimir Putin does not have America’s interests at heart,” McCain added. “To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk.”

Trump has begun to walk back his comments on Putin, and the White House is actively trying to alleviate concerns that he places greater trust in Putin than he does the intelligence officers who risk their lives every day for this country. “What I said there is that I believe he believes that,” Trump tried to explain.

But that sort of semantic backpedaling isn’t convincing — especially given that the president said of Putin that he would not “stand there and argue with him” about the issue. That is enough to demonstrate that Trump is willing to disregard his intelligence agency officials, throwing them under the proverbial bus, in order to placate the president of Russia.

John McCain, and others who have been critical of Trump on his statements, are right to call him out. And the president ought to reconsider his thinking when it comes to Vladimir Putin.





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