This morning Trump denounced a move by House Democrats to suggest that Russia is still trying to elect Trump based on an intel briefing yesterday, calling it a ‘misinformation campaign’:
Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa. Hoax number 7!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2020
It was initially reported that intel officials warned the House that Russia was trying to help elect Trump, and this apparently infuriated Trump:
Intelligence officials have warned lawmakers that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election campaign to help President Donald Trump get reelected, according to three officials familiar with the closed-door briefing.
The officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. said Thursday that the briefing last week focused on Russia’s efforts to influence the 2020 election and sow discord in the American electorate. The intelligence warning was first reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post.
A senior administration official told The Associated Press that the news infuriated Trump, who complained that Democrats would use the information against him, Over the course of his presidency, Trump has dismissed the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s 2016 election interference as a conspiracy to undermine his victory. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting.
That sounds bad.
But it appears Trump is right about this and that CNN’s Jake Tapper would agree with him, with Tapper tweeting this morning that the intelligence has been mischaracterized based on sources he trusts:
A national security official I know and trust pushes back on the way the briefing/ODNI story is being told, and others with firsthand knowledge agree with his assessment.
2/ “What’s been articulated in the news is that the intelligence community has concluded that the Russians are trying to help Trump again. But the intelligence doesn’t say that,” the official says…
3/ “The problem is Shelby” — Pierson, the elections threats executive in the intelligence community — “said they developed a preference for Trump. A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that….
4/ “It’s more that they understand the president is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker. But not that they prefer him over Sanders or Buttigieg or anyone else. So it may have been mischaracterized by Shelby” at the House Intel briefing last week…
5/ “And by the way,” the official says, “both Democrats and Republicans were challenging this at the briefing.”
Then there’s the matter of the tense meeting between President Trump and erstwhile Acting Director of National Intelligence Admiral Maguire…
6/ “The President was upset that he had to hear about an intelligence conclusion from a Member of the House Republicans rather than from the intelligence community. So he was out of joint with Maguire on that process.”
So essentially the reporting was wrong on both counts, regarding the intelligence and why Trump was angry.
Chalk another one up to fake news and kudos to Jake Tapper for his reporting on this.