The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump on Russia

If the speech in Warsaw was beautiful, the press conference was rockier. Here is an exchange on Russian interference in the election that’s gotten a lot of attention:

NBC’s Jackson: You again said you *think* it was Russia. Your intelligence agencies have been far more definitive. They say it was Russia. Why won’t you agree with them and say it was?

Trump: I agree, I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows for sure. I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction. How everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what — that led to one big mess. They were wrong.

This answer is very Trump in that it says many different things at once — he agrees with the intelligence agencies that it was Russia, it was other countries, and no one really knows — and he can’t bring himself to forthrightly acknowledge the Russian interference and condemn it. I believe his resistance to this is a function of his (understandable) belief that the Russian narrative is meant to undermine his legitimacy. But he buys himself much more grief by being evasive rather than just calling out the Russians on this and moving on.