In White House meetings in recent months, President Trump has attempted to downplay the significance of Russian election interference to his own aides, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
In a recent meeting, Trump harped on the fact that Russian meddling didn’t change individual votes — which has not been suggested by his advisers — and repeatedly told aides that his 2016 campaign wasn’t “hacked.” In the summer of 2018, aides asked Trump if they could begin talking about Russian meddling ahead of the midterms in order to heighten awareness of the issue. Trump agreed, but with the caveat that aides make it clear that Russian interference did not change the outcome of the election.
It’s so well known that Trump doesn’t want to talk about Russian meddling that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen not to bring up the issue to Trump, as the New York Times reported last week. In two separate meetings around the midterms, when Nielsen tried to raise the issue, Trump diverted the conversation to immigration issues.