Donald Trump admitted on Thursday that, yes, Russia did in fact help him get elected president of the United States in 2016—although he maintained he had “nothing to do with” their efforts to aid his campaign.
Trump’s acknowledgement-slash-denial marks the first time the president has actually copped to the core element of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s now-completed investigation, which found (in Mueller’s own words) “multiple, systematic” efforts by the Russians to influence the election. It also conspicuously left out the fact that Trump—in front of a bank of television cameras—pleaded to Russia that, “If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing,” because “you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Speaking with reporters less than an hour after admitting Russia’s impact on his campaign, Trump immediately contradicted himself, insisting that actually “Russia did not get me elected,” and that “Russia didn’t help me at all.”
All this happened before 9 a.m.