Trump Still Doesn’t Believe Russia Interfered in 2016 Election

Intelligence chiefs unanimously agreed on Tuesday that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election, but President Donald Trump is still unconvinced that it really did.

The president’s top national security officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia interfered in the election and is planning to do so again this year. However, according to CNN, sources familiar with Trump’s stance say he still does not believe that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

The sources add that the president is convinced the issue is connected to whether his campaign colluded with Moscow, even though the two are not. Trump believes that the idea he had help from Russia, implies that he didn’t win the election on his own.

Maine Senator Angus King, the commander in chief of the intelligence chiefs, also asserted that the two issues were separate, but added that there was no doubt there was Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I understand the President’s sensitivity about whether his campaign was in connections with the Russians, and that’s a separate question. But there is no question — we’ve got before us the entire intelligence community, that the Russians interfered in the election in 2016 — they’re continuing to do it, and they’re a real imminent threat to our elections in a matter of eight or nine months,” King said.

Trump’s views, however, are not in line with those of intelligence chiefs, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and FBI Director Chris Wray, who continue to maintain that Moscow did meddle in 2016.

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Coats said at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats.

Trump has been reluctant to admit Russia meddled in the election, and on the several occasions that he has admitted it may be so, he has done it half-heartedly, pointing out that other actors may have been involved, too. On other occasions, he has fully denied Moscow ever interfered, calling the “Russia story” a hoax.

Senior-most intelligence advisers are convinced Russia will try to meddle again, while the disconnect between them and President Trump has raised serious questions as to whether the U.S. government would be able to mount an effective plan to beat back Russian influence operations in the upcoming midterm elections, The Washington Post writes.

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