In this July 21, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP VIA CP

Trump gets angry about election meddling, but not at Russia

‘Weirdest thing’: Trump expresses anger, but not over Russian election-meddling

A curious thing has unfolded since the release of details about a Russian campaign to interfere in U.S. politics, with a secretive unit that allegedly had 80 employees, a $1.2 million-a-month budget, and impersonated real Americans by stealing their personal information.

It involves the reaction of the president of the United States.

Since an indictment sheet revealed these details Friday, Donald Trump has tweeted about it at least 14 times. He’s blamed the FBI and the news media. He’s scolded his national-security advisor. He’s even used the Florida school shooting to argue that he’s being wronged.

Related: 13 Russians charged in Mueller investigation

One thing he hasn’t done: Voice displeasure with Russia.

His reaction stands in sharp contrast with some members of his own party who sound disturbed by this alleged Russian election interference. It has Democrats questioning his motives. He’s being condemned by survivors of the Florida shooting.

Related: Trump refuses to address gun control following deadly Florida shooting

It has also drawn news headlines like, “We’ve Just Hit A New Presidential Low,” from the Washington Post, “Trump blames everyone but Russia,” from CNN, and “Trump Quiet In A U.S. War On Meddling,” on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times.

Trump’s first tweet after Friday’s indictments was enthusiastic — he claimed his own exoneration. That’s because the charge sheet said some Americans who interacted with the Russian information campaign did so unwittingly, and a senior Justice Department official added that there was no evidence this unit’s work swayed the 2016 election result.

By Saturday evening, he expressed frustration.

Trump tweeted about the school shooting that left 17 people dead, and linked it to his own plight: “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics.”

Then came a gusher of tweets Sunday morning.

He chided his top national-security official, H.R. McMaster, who this weekend said it’s now “incontrovertible” that Russia interfered in the election: “General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians,” Trump said.

He insisted he never called Russian election-meddling a hoax: “I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’”

Some people find his reaction abnormal.

On ABC, his former campaign ally, Chris Christie, said: “The president should be staying out of law-enforcement business.” On NBC, Sen. James Lankford was asked whether the president’s reaction bothers him: “It does,” Lankford replied. ”Because Russia’s clearly tried to advance their agenda into the United States.”

Some students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., expressed bewilderment, including Aly Sheehy who tweeted: “17 of my classmates are gone. That’s 17 futures, 17 children, and 17 friends stolen. But you’re right, it always has to be about you. How silly of me to forget.”

The president’s reaction was in stark contrast with another politician who allegedly benefited from Russian information campaigns.

Sen. Bernie Sanders was also mentioned in the indictment sheet.

Special counsel Robert Mueller alleges that a Russian operation called, “The Translator Project,” had instructions to go after all sorts of American politicians, Democrats and Republicans, to sow discord in the U.S. — with two exceptions: Trump and Sanders.

Sanders sounded like he was taking it seriously.

He acknowledged, in an interview on “Meet The Press,” that when his Democratic primary campaign appeared lost, Russians flooded Facebook pages to spread negative messages about the eventual nominee, Hillary Clinton. He said a member of his team even reached out to Clinton’s campaign to opine that something weird was happening.

Sanders said it’s imperative American leaders confront Russia about this.

“What we have to say to the Russians (is), ‘You are doing something to undermine American democracy; you are not going to get away with it. This is a major assault. If you do that there will be severe consequences.’”

He questioned the president’s own approach. While Trump has closed some Russian diplomatic buildings in the U.S. in a diplomatic tit-for-tat, he has also been reluctant to enforce sanctions, avoided criticizing Russia, and has even said he believes Vladimir Putin when he claims Russia didn’t meddle.

“I think (it’s) one of the weirdest things in modern American history,” Sanders said.

“This is a huge deal. And that we don’t have a president speaking out on this issue is a horror show, and we have got to bring Democrats and Republicans together despite the president, to go forward to protect the integrity of American democracy.”

The president also bashed the news media this weekend and accused it of exaggerating the Russia story.

The media bashed back.

A Washington Post column headlined, “We’ve Just Hit A New Presidential Low,” said: “Imagine how history would have judged Franklin D. Roosevelt in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, if he had taken to the radio airwaves to declare that Tokyo was ‘laughing their asses off.’ Or if George W. Bush had stood in the rubble of the World Trade Center with a bullhorn and launched a name-calling tirade against the Democrats…”

“(Trump’s) self-absorption is such that he cannot see beyond his own fixation, which is that all of this has no meaning beyond the legitimacy of his own election. Moscow must indeed be laughing.”

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oliver woman reflects on prestigious win at Westminster dog show

“Polly” the Scottish deerhound was crowned best in breed and reserve best hound.

Okanagan School of the Arts launching first exhibit of 2020

“The work we’ve received is incredibly colourful and vibrant…” - OSA executive director, Kim Palmer.

South Okanagan mountain bore racist name for a half century

Nkawala Mountain was initially named in connection with the deaths of two black men.

The tragic tale of two Summerland men who perished on Christmas Day 1908

More than a century later, the events surrounding the men’s deaths are still somewhat of a mystery.

‘God is a Scottish Drag Queen’ coming to the South Okanagan

Comedian Mike Delamont’s show opens on March 14 at Venables Theatre in Oliver.

Kelowna’s Family YMCA opens doors on Family Day

The entire day was free for the community

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

RCMP report woman arrested after ramming police cruiser

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Kelowna RCMP arrest alleged impaired driver

The driver is facing potential charges after power pole collision

Most Read