President Donald Trump continued his defensive commentary on Friday's indictments of Russians in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, saying Russia "succeeded beyond their wildest dreams" in dividing America and is now laughing at the U.S.
Thirteen Russians and three Russian organizations were indicted Friday for allegedly interfering in the U.S. 2016 presidential elections with the intention of promoting Trump’s candidacy. Charges listed in the 37-page document include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, and they are the most direct allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election that put Trump in the White House.
Trump also asserted that he "never said Russia did not meddle in the election" and harkened back to a comment he made at a 2016 debate that the meddling "could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?"
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He insisted that the "Russian 'hoax'" he repeatedly refers to "was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia - it never did!"
The president has repeatedly expressed skepticism over the Russian election meddling. In November, he said he believed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that there had been meddling but also said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin is sincere when he says Russia didn't interfere.
In his rapid-fire series of tweets Sunday, Trump also thanked — and attacked — Rep. Adam Schiff, who said the Obama administration should have created a "more forceful deterrent" against adversaries wanting to launch cyber attacks on the U.S.
The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat pointed to the Obama administration's muted response to the 2014 Sony hacking, telling NBC Friday that "others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention."
Schiff argued the Obama administration, therefore, shares some responsibility for what happened with Russia, adding, "We should have called them out much earlier."
Former President Barack Obama in late 2016 defended his administration's response to the Russian meddling, also saying he had confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin that September, telling him to "cut it out." And former Vice President Joe Biden recently said Obama didn't want to politicize the threat and that the full scope of the meddling wasn't known until after the 2016 election.
Trump analyzed Schiff's comments, tweeting Sunday, "Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!"
He added: "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. But wasn’t I a great candidate?"
Trump's response to the indictments has largely focused on himself and his election victory, which he has continued to argue was fairly achieved without the help of Russia. He has quoted political commentators — and a Facebook official — who he says also believe there is no evidence of collusion or swaying of the election.
The White House doubled down on the president's assertions, writing in all caps in a Friday statement that there was "NO COLLUSION."
Though the president and White House are correct in that collusion was not proven in the indictment Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the probe, had carefully chosen his words Friday when he said, "There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity."
Aside from encouraging Americans to "come together" and "stop the outlandish partisan attacks," Trump has refrained from suggesting any kind of retribution for a foreign adversary infiltrating America's electoral processes. However, a top administration official took a more direct route.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster said in Germany Saturday that the evidence of Moscow's meddling is "incontrovertible," adding that "the United States will expose and act against those who use cyberspace, social media and other means to advance campaigns of disinformation, subversion and espionage."
Trump clapped back Saturday at McMaster's forceful language, once again bringing the conversation back to his 2016 win and pointing the finger at his political opponents.
"General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!" the president tweeted.
Turning to a different topic Sunday, but continuing to criticize his opponents, Trump railed against law enforcement over an Obama-era payment to Iran, tweeting that he has "never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!"
The Obama administration transferred the money to Iran in 2016, using non-U.S. currency. The administration said it was the settlement of a decades-old arbitration claim between the countries. An initial payment was delivered the same day Tehran agreed to release four American prisoners.
The Obama administration eventually acknowledged the cash was used as leverage until the Americans were allowed to leave Iran. Congressional Republicans decried the payment as ransom, which the Obama administration denied.
By late Sunday night, Trump shifted his wide-ranging Twitter critique to Oprah Winfrey, who has played down suggestions she should run for president in 2020. Trump said her appearance as an interviewer on "60 Minutes" was "biased" and "slanted." ''Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!" Trump tweeted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.