Alternative fact of the week: Trump's uncertainty principle
Jul 06, 2017 | 1:05 PM
Our view: Claiming that ‘nobody really knows’ whether countries other than Russia interfered with the election takes alternative facts to a higher level of fuzziness
President Donald Trump's first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin must have caused some serious night-before jitters. At least that might explain his comments Thursday in Warsaw that "nobody really knows for sure" whether other countries may have meddled in the last election, an action U.S. intelligence agencies have, at least in public testimony to date, assigned exclusively to Russia with the effort even traced specifically to Mr. Putin.
Donald Trump questioned American intelligence about Russian meddling in the U.S. election on the eve of his first meeting with Vladimir Putin.
By By Ken Thomas and Darlene Superville
Jul 06, 2017 | 8:09 AM
Thus, Mr. Trump introduces "Alternative Fact of the Week: Obfuscation Edition." This isn't merely another sign of the president's "I wish I knew how to quit you" man-crush on the Russian dictator but rather the latest example of his willingness to say whatever might be convenient to him at the time with no compunction about whether it's true. Is it possible that some other countries tried to hack the private emails of Democratic National Committee or John Podesta or spread propaganda to produce their preferred result of a Trump victory? Well, maybe. We can't prove the moon isn't made of green cheese either, but we have just about as much corroboration of that as we do the president's broadened hacking claim.
President Donald Trump on Saturday called out Obama administration officials for not taking stronger actions against Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election
By Avi Selk and Amy B Wang
Jun 24, 2017 | 9:23 PM
What's particularly galling about President Trump's blatant diversionary tactics is how he argues both sides of the Russian meddling equation. On the one hand, maybe there were other hackers, but on the other, why didn't Barack Obama get tougher on the Russians when they were hacking? "They say [President Obama] choked. Well, I don't think he choked," the president told reporters in Poland in a now-familiar refrain. "I think he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and he said, 'Let's not do anything about it.'" So did they do it and deserve punishment or is it all not clear?
Donald Trump suggested he was trying to keep fired FBI Director James Comey honest with his tweet implying there may be recordings of their conversations.
By By Jonathan Lemire and Eric Tucker
Jun 23, 2017 | 7:59 PM
Call it "meddling muddling," but Mr. Trump's efforts to bewilder America and the world have become a go-to tactic of late. He countered the former FBI director's recollection of their private meetings by hinting that tapes of the conversations would tell a different story before admitting weeks later that he did not tape them but justifies his statements by speculating that maybe somebody did. As if to suggest maybe the White House was bugged. He privately tells Republicans the House version of the Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill is "mean" but is reportedly furious with moderate GOP senators who oppose a version that leaves 22 million Americans without health insurance, making it just as "mean" as any before Congress. His spokeswoman says he's never "promoted or encouraged violence" (which isn't true, by the way) and several days later, he links his Twitter followers to a video of him body-slamming a figure with "CNN" plastered over his face.
Still, nothing brings out the fuzzy logic from President Trump quite like the investigation into Russian hacking of the last election. For months, he simply denied that there was much evidence the Russians were involved (even after testimony before Congress by his own cabinet members), but that changed just two weeks ago when he got a chance to complain about Mr. Obama's failure to take more decisive action against them. But even as he admits to it now, he still trots out his skepticism of U.S. intelligence agencies in general, reminding reporters in Poland that those same agencies failed to properly assess whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2002, throwing the NSA, CIA and others under the bus for about the 245th time for something that happened under the George W. Bush administration.
CBS Miami's Weijia Jiang reports from Washington, D.C.
This kind of obliviousness and unwillingness to accept intelligence findings would seem particularly unwise in the face of North Korea missile testing. If President Trump intends to take the decisive action he's hinted at (even though it seems highly unlikely, given the lack of good options), he'll have to trot out intelligence findings to justify it. Why would Americans buy that CIA infallibility now when he's spent so much time sabotaging the agency's reputation? Because it's convenient for a president who tweeted "It won't happen!" to the prospect of North Korea developing a nuclear missile capable of hitting the U.S.?
There's perhaps a hair's breadth of difference between outright lying and tossing out scenarios without a shred of evidence to support them. Don't take our word for it. Just ask those Martians who landed at Area 51. They've never disagreed with a single one of our editorials.