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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, during a meeting with state and local officials about infrastructure. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- President Donald Trump in a series of tweets Sunday morning sought to shift the blame to Democrats for Russia's virtual war to meddle in the 2016 election, saying that President Barack Obama had not done enough to stop the interference.

Trump was responding to comments by Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, that criticized Obama's muted response to the Russian threat.

"Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing," Trump tweeted.

It was an apparent reference to a Friday interview in which Schiff said the Obama administration bears some responsibility "for not establishing a more forceful deterrent" to cyberattacks.

Trump also denied ever suggesting that Moscow might not have been involved.

[PRESIDENT TRUMP: Timeline, appointments, executive orders + guide to actions in first 200 days]

Trump, who has said little to publicly acknowledge a threat to U.S. democracy that one of his top aides called "incontrovertible" on Saturday, asserted that the efforts to investigate and combat the Russian meddling had only given the Russians what they wanted, saying that "they are laughing their [a**es] off in Moscow."

"If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams," Trump wrote.

On Saturday, the president's national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, said, referring to the Russian meddling, that "with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain."

In a late-night tweet Saturday, Trump said McMaster "forgot to say" at a security conference in Germany that the election results had not been changed as a result of the Russian interference. The nation's intelligence agencies believe that it is not possible to make such a conclusion.

According to three people with knowledge of his reaction, Trump began the weekend believing that something good had just happened to him after Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading an investigation into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia, secured an indictment against several Russians.

But once ensconced at his Florida estate on Friday, Trump, facing long hours indoors as he avoided rounds of golf after Wednesday's school shooting a few miles away, began watching TV.

The president's mood began to darken as it became clearer to him that some commentators were portraying the indictment as nothing for him to celebrate, according to the three people.

The indictment says that while the Russians began their scheme in 2014 with the goal of undermining the U.S. democratic system, they eventually shifted their focus to trying to help elect Trump and disparage his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

As the weekend went on, Trump's long-standing frustrations with an inquiry that he has branded a "witch hunt" once again came to the fore. While Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had noted repeatedly in announcing the indictment that it does not say that Russia changed the outcome of the election, Trump was said to have been angry because his own team had not gone further in his defense.

That included McMaster. When he spoke in Germany, McMaster did not believe he could go further than the cold facts of the document, a reality that deeply frustrated the president, two administration officials said.

SHIFTING VIEWS

The president has repeatedly seized on the fact that the efforts started before he became a candidate, but he has glossed over the conclusion that they evolved to support his candidacy. The indictment does not assert any wrongdoing by the president or anyone affiliated with him.

In another tweet Sunday, Trump, who has since the campaign expressed doubts about who was behind the election intrusions, said that he had "never said Russia did not meddle in the election," making reference to a comment he made in a 2016 presidential debate.

"I said 'it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer,'" Trump wrote. "The Russian 'hoax' was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia -- it never did!"

Mostly, he has equivocated on the question of Russian interference, speaking at times as if he believes it happened and other times as if he does not. He's been consistent only in denying that his team colluded with Russia.

In November, he seemed to suggest that he believed President Vladimir Putin's denials of interference over the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies.

"Every time he sees me he says, 'I didn't do that,' and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it," Trump said at the time, calling questions about Moscow's meddling a politically motivated "hit job."

He said the next day that, while he thought Putin was sincere, he believed U.S. intelligence agencies' assessments that Russia had meddled.

On Sunday, Trump praised the remarks by Schiff, one of his chief antagonists, about Obama's response to Russian meddling. But at the same time, Trump called the congressman "the leakin' monster of no control."

"Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election," Trump wrote.

The president in the past has traded bitter Twitter messages with Schiff, accusing him of leaking classified information. Schiff shot back at Trump on Sunday, saying on Twitter that "if McMaster can stand up to Putin, why can't you?"

Information for this article was contributed by Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times; by Catherine Lucey, Jonathan Lemire and Calvin Woodward of The Associated Press; and by Shannon Pettypiece and Mark Niquette of Bloomberg News.

A Section on 02/19/2018

Print Headline: Trump places Russia blame on Democrats; In tweets, he denies doubts about source of meddling

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  • RBear
    February 19, 2018 at 5:25 a.m.

    "The president has repeatedly seized on the fact that the efforts started before he became a candidate, but he has glossed over the conclusion that they evolved to support his candidacy."
    ...
    That one point shows how little this president understands the issue and how the troll factory at the IRA evolved. It's still an evolving landscape as the factory is now focused on the 2018 election. Primarily, their objective is to disrupt the political process and put rogue candidates that focus on divisive politics over consensus. The more they can keep the US in dysfunction, the better they feel their position is.
    ...
    Since the process was evolving and to avoid any appearance of "tapping the pedal," Obama and his administration was monitoring and learning how this troll factory was injecting itself in the process. The factory didn't really begin operation until 2014 and at that time I don't think anyone knew they existed. Trump's lack of understanding shows in his tweets. When evidence was presented to him, he did nothing himself. That was when the US intelligence agencies knew more and could provide more details.
    ...
    So the blame really is on Trump for no action.

  • WGT
    February 19, 2018 at 6:21 a.m.

    Trump really is a godsend for liberals. His voluminous ( for you republicans reading this, that’s “bigly”) lack of understanding renders him ripe for an easy replacement in the upcoming election cycle. Ted Cruz said it best, “ Democrats are going to be crawling over broken glass to vote.”
    .
    Another reminder for the folks who give the morning detail to trump- the Miranda warning is a very good piece of advice.

  • JakeTidmore
    February 19, 2018 at 7:08 a.m.

    Trump's relying on fiction over fact is one reason his tweeting has been referred to as a "tweetstorm" - because it's a sh*tstorm of tweets. With Trump, instead of calling it Fact Check, it ought to be labeled Fiction Check. His grasp on reality is almost non-existent.

  • TimberTopper
    February 19, 2018 at 7:28 a.m.

    I think Trump understands very well what has and is going on. He knows he's guilty as hell and feels the noose tightening daily around his neck.

  • RobertBolt
    February 19, 2018 at 7:48 a.m.

    Agent Orange and his minions wait until facts become obvious to the rest of the world before moving slightly toward reality while touting their persistent frankness. This afternoon they will reveal that dawn is imminent, and later this year they will acknowledge Agent Orange and his associates face serious legal challenges.

  • hah406
    February 19, 2018 at 8:01 a.m.

    He has literally lost it. As David Gergen pointed out (having served under five presidents), this is just like the last days of the Nixon White House with social media added in. Total chaos. An out of control POTUS dealing in anything and everything except fact, and acting with extreme paranoia because he knows what is coming. I have heard meth addicts on a five day binge make more sense and tell more truth than Trump did this weekend.

  • JA40
    February 19, 2018 at 8:27 a.m.

    I am very proud to have witnessed our first and only perfect President. He has never done anything wrong, and NOTHING is his fault. I just get a warm fuzzy.

  • mrcharles
    February 19, 2018 at 9:08 a.m.

    Notice the smirk of putin , he knows he has trump on a string and that is why, they say, they, the bad guys, knowing trump and how confused the gop gets, they wanted the less of two evils to be POITUS, and they thought MT was cuter than Bill .

    We laughed when hillbilly palin and her trailer family was considered for VP-- OMG , think of trump and SP together, dumb and dumber. but now we have a celestial decoder who does not trust himself to be alone with a female, and a 17 years old who should not be trusted around a female, apparently even with his foreign born wife just giving birth... would barron be a version of an anchor baby?

    I know the left and the right have differences over economic policies, social policies and foreign policies but this twisted defense of the evil empire would make the right's fore founders sick to their stomach... heck fire I expect all the right wingers here will try to get foreign exchange students from russia to cozy up to putin just so they can meet him in one of his shirtless photo shoots.

  • skeptic1
    February 19, 2018 at 9:37 a.m.

    Poor, poor, lemmings, all roads to Russia go through the DNC's crooked Hillary and Barack Hussein Obama. The media went all in to bolster the Trump/Russia collusion fable to put a smoke screen around the true criminals and now it's blowing back on them. At some point the lefty loons are going to have to accept the fact that Hillary lost in a fair and legal election because she was a horribly flawed candidate deserving of the nickname "Crooked Hillary." The DNC freak out is only going to get worse as the nation continues to soar in jobs, wages, and a president that actually does what he promised.

  • ARMNAR
    February 19, 2018 at 9:49 a.m.

    You're so cute when you're wrong, libertas.

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