Trump leaps to new position, claiming that his campaign ‘rebuffed’ contacts from Russia

Since William Barr issued his brief “summary” of the report from special counsel Robert Mueller, Donald Trump has been claiming that the report gave him “total exoneration” and showed that there was “no collusion.” But on Thursday night, Trump extended his lies about the findings of the report in a new and fundamental way. In a pair of overnight tweets, Trump claimed that “The Mueller Report strongly stated that there was No Collusion with Russia (of course) and, in fact, they were rebuffed at every turn in attempts to gain access.”

That’s a massive shift from Rudy Giuliani appearing on television just two weeks ago to claim “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.” And from Barr’s labored efforts to explain that just because the campaign was getting information from the Russians, and giving information to the Russians, it doesn’t mean it was working with the Russians. And it is a fundamental difference from what’s actually in the report.

Trump embedded this in a sort of can’t-we-all-get-along tweet about everyone forgetting the report and working together on infrastructure, and drug prices, and immigration. But what Trump is selling here isn’t just a minor bump to his framing. It’s a complete rewrite of the entire report, one hundred and eighty degrees at odds with the genuine findings. It’s a change that wipes away not only the actual report, but also everything Trump’s own team has said in his defense since the investigation began.

The special counsel report shows hundreds of instances of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, and rather than being rebuffed, many of these contacts were initiated from the Trump side. That’s true in the case of George Papadopoulos, who not only reached out again and again for contact, but “kept campaign officials apprised of his efforts.” It’s true of Paul Manafort, who began trying to arrange meetings with his longtime Russian employer even before he gained the chairmanship of the campaign. It’s certainly true of “If it’s what you say, I love it” Donald Trump Jr. and his eagerness to schedule the Trump Tower meeting and bring in other campaign officials.

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