The Corner

White House

Strong Would

It’s good that Trump walked back his Helsinki remarks.

It’s obvious that he doesn’t mean it. That was pretty clear from his body language. Also, his prepared remarks were forced. But his ad lib was pretty sincere:

“[Eat-your-spinach voice] I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. [/Eat-your-spinach voice]

[Trump voice] Could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all. [/Trump voice]”

He then did his usual riff on the subject.

But there’s another problem. This riff undermines the core of his walk back. Trump says that he meant to say “wouldn’t” instead of “would” in the bolded part below:

My people came to me, Dan Coates, came to me and some others they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia.

I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server but I have, I have confidence in both parties.

Well, in his walk back today, Trump goes out of his way to say that it “could be other people also.” So apparently he’s saying that yesterday he meant to say that he couldn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia and Russia alone who meddled in the election. Today, he’s saying that he can see how it might be lots of other people or countries?

Again, it’s good that Trump is trying to fix the damage, and it’s good that people in the White House (presumably) made him do it (the reporting on that will be fascinating). Still, I expect he’ll fall back into a “you’re damn right I ordered the code red” admission that contradicts this admission sooner rather than later. Though I hope he doesn’t.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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