President Trump’s national security adviser acknowledged on Saturday that the evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is irrefutable — after more than a year of Trump characterizing accusations of Russian election interference as a “hoax.”
Speaking to an audience at an international conference in Munich, H.R. McMaster said the evidence of Russian interference “is now incontrovertible” after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s latest indictment, which was handed down on Friday.
The indictment accuses 13 Russians and three Russian companies of mounting “interference operations” to sway the presidential election away from Hillary Clinton and toward Donald Trump. According to the indictment, this effort involved hundreds of people engaged in disseminating material on social media platforms to disparage Clinton’s campaign and boost support for Trump’s.
McMaster’s latest comments are a sharp departure from the way Trump himself typically talks about potential Russian interference.
Trump has repeatedly denied that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, saying that he takes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word for it. He has called such allegations “fake news,” accusing Democrats of making up the story to compensate for their loss in 2016.
Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
The Trump team’s repeated denials have provided convenient cover for Russian officials to brush aside the alleged Russian plot to sway the latest U.S. presidential election.
At the same conference where McMaster acknowledged the “incontrovertible” evidence of interference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov downplayed the accusations in Mueller’s latest indictment. “Until we see the facts, everything else is just blabber,” he said. Lavrov pointed out that some Trump officials themselves have denied that the 2016 election results were influenced by any outside force.
McMaster also recently suggested there is some evidence of Russian interference in Mexico’s upcoming presidential election, which will take place in July.
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