Donald Trump’s ridiculous claim today that he only inadvertently sided with Russia’s Vladimir Putin over our intelligence agencies because he accidentally said the word “would” instead of “wouldn’t” is even more ridiculous in light of Trump’s chat with his Bedtime BFF, Sean Hannity, that aired last night.
TRUMP: In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't." The sentence should have been: I don't see any reason why I wouldn't -- or why it wouldn't be Russia. So just to repeat it, I said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't." And the sentence should have been -- and I thought it would be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video -- the sentence should have been: I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia. Sort of a double negative.
So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.
First of all, the totality of Trump’s remarks make it quite clear that he meant to side with Putin over the U.S.. Furthermore, changing “would” to “wouldn’t” does not make sense in the context of the full sentence, as Matthew Iglesias noted:
Look this makes no sense. Read the full sentence. pic.twitter.com/xJ46PCNlR2— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 17, 2018
Also, Trump’s next thought in his summit remarks, after whining about the server and Hillary Clinton’s emails, made it abundantly clear he was giving Putin at least as much credence as U.S. intelligence.
TRUMP: So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer. OK?
Hannity, who has been dubbed Trump's “unofficial chief of staff,” did not suggest anything was amiss in Trump’s summit remarks. In his pre-interview monologue, Hannity said admiringly, “The president has never been afraid to walk away from a bad deal, never been afraid to call out foreign leaders, and hold all of them accountable.” Yet Trump had done nothing of the sort with Putin over Russian meddling.
The opening comments between Hannity and Trump suggested that the two loved Trump’s less-than-supportive comments about the Russia investigation:
HANNITY: You literally just finished the press conference with President Putin moments ago. A lot came up. You were very strong at the end of that press conference.
You said, where are the servers? What about what Peter Strzok said? Where are the 33,000 emails?
And there was this mystery answer that I think surprised a lot of people by the president of Russia, as it relates to the Mueller investigation.
It just so happens that “very strong” moment about the servers and Peter Strzok included the “I don't see any reason why it would be Russia doing the hacking" remark that Trump now claims was supposed to be “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be” Russia. So Trump’s newly-alleged misstatement was part of what Hannity was praising.
In the Hannity interview, Trump continued to sound much more admiring of Putin than the U.S. intelligence community:
TRUMP: Well, first of all, [Putin] said there was no collusion whatsoever. I guess he said he said as strongly as you can say it. They have no information on Trump. It was an interesting statement, too.
You know, many years ago, when I was there, it was '13, quite a long time ago, he said there were many, many business people there. In all fairness, I was a very successful businessman but I was one of a lot of people.
And one thing you know, if they had it, it would have been out.
HANNITY: He said it was nonsense.
TRUMP: He said it's nonsense, that's right. He also says there is absolutely no collusion, which you know, and everybody that watches your show knows, and I think most of the country knows, and Tucker standing over there definitely knows, because he gets it. He's one of the people that get it.
But I'll tell you that I thought it was a really amazing time -- not about that. I think it's a shame, we are talking about nuclear proliferation. We're talking about Syria and humanitarian aid, we're talking about all these different things, and we get questions on the witch hunt.
And I don't think the people out in the country buy it. But the reporters like to give it a shot. I thought that President Putin was very, very strong.
Later, in Part Two of the interview, Trump gushed over the summit with absolutely no indication he thought Russia meddled, much less cared if they had:
TRUMP: I think it was great today, but I think it was really bad five hours ago. I think we really had a potential problem. I think with two nuclear nations. Ninety percent of the nuclear power in the world between these two nations, and we've had a phony witch hunt deal drive us apart.
HANNITY: This is the biggest wedge. This was the biggest wedge.
TRUMP: I think, well, it's the thing that he told me. When he went in he said what a shame. He felt it was very hard for me to make a deal because of, you know, all of this nonsense and much of the case.
HANNITY: You said before it's nonsense.
Anyone not looking for an excuse to give Trump’s summit a pass – and probably even anyone who is - knows his walkback is a load of BS designed to pass off treason as diplomacy.
But Trump’s implausible deniability, as Yglesias called it, will probably be good enough for the Republican Cover-up Caucus. It will almost certainly work for the Trump lickspittles on Fox News. It will definitely work for Bedtime BFF Hannity.
Watch the interview below, from the July 16, 2018 Hannity.
(Transcript excerpts via FoxNews.com)