FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers put the lie Monday to Donald Trump’s claim that the intelligence community had advised him that Russia’s interference with the 2016 election results did not impact the results of the election.
On January 6, after receiving an intelligence briefing, the White House issued the following statement:
While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.
The next day, Trump followed up on this statement with a tweet. Trump’s tweet specifically cited the U.S. intelligence community as his source:
And then, Monday, Trump doubled down with a new tweet:
Everything in these statements, with the exception of the references to voting machines, is false.
Comey and Rogers were sufficiently diplomatic not to label Trump’s comments as “lies.” They nevertheless put the lie to those comments in no uncertain terms.
Here’s Comey testifying that “Russia did not influence the electoral process:”
We’ve offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact because it’s never something that we looked at... It certainly wasn’t our intention to say that today because we don’t have any information on that subject. And that’s not something that was looked at.
Here’s Rogers answering a direct question about whether the intelligence community ever did an analysis as to whether the dissemination of the adverse information stolen and disseminated by Russia had any effect on the election: “No sir. The U.S. intelligence community does not do assessments ... of U.S. opinion.”
In other words, the intelligence community neither reported to Trump nor testified to Congress that Russia’s interference had no impact on the election, as Trump has repeatedly claimed. In fact, they never even addressed that issue. It’s just not something they do.
Trump and his apologists will undoubtedly try to weasel their way out of being caught in this lie by claiming that all they ever really said was that there was no tampering with the voting machines.
But that is not all they said. They did not issue a narrow, limited statement about tampering with voting machines. They issued broad, sweeping denials of any impact whatsoever, “including” no tampering with voting machines.
And Monday’s false Trump tweet didn’t even mention voting machines.
Doubtless they will try to peddle the ludicrous defense that use of the word “process” in today’s tweet was a reference to voting machines, and they never meant it to be read more broadly than that. Nobody with a brain will believe them.
Once again, Trump has been caught in a lie. And this is a big one because it goes to the heart of what has been eating away at him since the election. Trump is clearly haunted by the specter that his election will be forever tainted by his having received a boost from Russian interference.
And about that, at least, he’s right.
Philip Rotner is an attorney and an engaged citizen who has spent over 40 years practicing law. His views are his own and do not reflect the views of any organization with which he has been associated. Follow Philip on Twitter at @PhilipRotner.