WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that Russia helped “me to get elected,” and then quickly retracted the idea.
“No, Russia did not help me get elected,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for Colorado Springs. “I got me elected.” He spoke less than an hour after his Twitter post.
The original comment, a clause in one of several Twitter posts this morning, is an extraordinary admission from Mr. Trump, who has avoided saying publicly that Russia helped him win the presidency in 2016 through its election interference. American intelligence agencies and federal prosecutors have long concluded that Russia tried to influence voters.
Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax…And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist. So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media,…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
Mr. Trump has been reluctant to fully embrace the intelligence agencies’ findings that Russia was behind the 2016 election interference, but he has consistently argued that he alone was responsible for his unexpected victory. The “Russia hoax,” Mr. Trump has argued, is one fabricated by Democrats who are angry they lost the White House.
Mr. Trump’s contradictory statements on Thursday morning arrived a day after the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, spoke publicly for the first time about his investigation’s findings. The president and his critics had conflicting interpretations about Mr. Mueller’s remarks — Mr. Trump and his supporters took them to mean “case closed,” while his critics saw them as a call to impeachment.
In other tweets on Thursday morning, Mr. Trump called Mr. Mueller “highly conflicted” and repeated his assertions that the inquiry was a “hoax” and that it amounted to “presidential harassment.”