When asked on Christmas what Russian President Vladimir Putin might have said to convince him that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election, President Donald Trump lashed out and dodged away.
“You’re putting words in somebody’s mouth,” Trump retorted, per New York Magazine. “Who are you referring to? Me? I never said anything about it. I never said a thing about it. All right, any other questions?”
The reporter’s question came from a Washington Post report in which multiple former White House officials confirmed that Putin fanned the flames of the conspiracy theory.
Many of those officials pointed to a meeting Trump had with Putin at the G-20 in Hamburg — where he had a lengthy conversation with Putin virtually alone — as the turning point in his obsession.
At the same time that he grew more likely to baselessly blame Ukraine, he became more hostile to his advisers and intelligence officers who impressed upon him the evidence that Russia was the true bad actor.
Republicans gradually picked up on the President’s pet conspiracy, some of whom parroted it back during the impeachment inquiry.