Trump Brushes Off Russian Meddling In Midterms: We’ll Counteract It ‘Strongly’

on March 6, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

Despite recent warnings from some of the top U.S. intelligence officials, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he was not worried about Russia trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

“We’ll counteract whatever they do,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven. “We’ll counteract it very strongly. And we have back-up systems, and we haven’t been given credit to this but we’re working very hard on the ’18 election and the ’20 election coming up.

Those efforts include instituting a paper back-up system for votes, according to comments he made earlier in the presser.

“It’s called paper,” Trump said. “Not highly complex computers. Paper. And a lot of states are doing that. They’re going to a paper back-up. And I think that’s a great idea. We’re studying it very closely. Various agencies, including Homeland Security, are studying it very carefully.”

As he has many times before, the President also reiterated the unfounded claim that Russia’s influence operation did not have an impact on the election results and suggested that other actors may have also been involved. The U.S. intelligence community and Special Counsel Robert Mueller have not concluded that election machines or voting results were altered, but they have documented that millions of Americans were exposed to hacked Democratic documents and Russian social media accounts that sought to boost Trump’s campaign. The impact of Russia’s efforts is still not completely known.

“The Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever,” Trump told the assembled reporters in the White House’s East Room. “Certainly there was meddling and probably from other countries and maybe other individuals. And I think you have to be really watching very closely. You don’t want your system of votes to be compromised in any way.”

Trump then pivoted to a discussion of his accomplishments in office, predicting that the GOP will “do very well” in the midterms.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are among the U.S. officials who have warned that Russia is already attempting to interfere in the 2018 elections. The New York Times reported this weekend that the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million intended to be used to combat foreign interference in elections.