In his interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt on Thursday, President Donald Trump said he believes the idea that Russia meddled in the 2016 election is a “made-up story” that Democrats are using to attack his victory.
“When I decided to just do it [fire former FBI Director James Comey], I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing — with Trump and Russia — is a made-up story,” Trump told NBC News in a May 11 interview. “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”
Trump repeated that falsehood Friday morning, tweeting: “Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.”
Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Trump’s claims counter widespread agreement among US intelligence officials and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle that Russia did indeed interfere in the US election in November.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” read a Jan. 7, 2017 report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which expressed “high confidence” that the Russian government put its thumb on the scale in favor of candidate Trump. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary (Hillary) Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
In his March 20 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, former FBI Director James Comey confirmed that his agency was investigating Russian efforts to interfere with the election.
“That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts,” Comey said, adding that the investigation began in late July 2016.
Here’s Politifact’s final ruling on Trump’s claim:
The record shows that credible evidence led the FBI to begin investigating possible ties between the Trump team and Russia in July 2016. That is the start of the story, more than three months before the election.
The American intelligence community expressed with confidence that Russia aimed to interfere in the election to harm Clinton and help Trump.
Democrats did not create the story, nor do they control the agenda of the House and Senate committees which are conducting their own investigations.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire.