It’s increasingly apparent that Trump family members and some of their closest associates are in serious legal jeopardy over their involvement with Kremlin–linked figures both before and after the 2016 presidential election.
Among the latest round of bad news for the Trumps—particularly Donald Trump Jr.—was the revelation Friday by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump Jr. and others at Trump Tower in June 2016, that she is in fact a Russian spy. Now, the president has started gaslighting his base with a new claim in an effort to obfuscate. Vladimir Putin, Trump says, is behind Veselnitskaya’s spy confession and the recent leaking of her emails because Trump has been so tough on Russia.
The man who so clearly has been in Putin’s pocket—and who did everything he could to delay Russian sanctions—now wants the world to believe the two are bitter rivals. Only in Trumpland does this degree of twisting of the facts make any sense.
Trump made the claim Saturday evening during another of his narcissistic and boisterous campaign rallies, this time in Washington Township, Michigan, about 40 miles north of Detroit.
During a meandering, off–script, 80–minute speech that included all of the typical Trump vitriol, the president addressed the Veselnitskaya revelations by saying:
I guarantee you, I’m tougher on Russia, nobody ever thought. In fact, have you heard about the lawyer? For a year, a woman lawyer, she was like, ‘Oh, I know nothing.’ Now all of a sudden she supposedly is involved with government. You know why? If she did that, because Putin and the group said, ‘You know, this Trump is killing us. Why don’t you say that you’re involved with government so that we can go and make their life in the United States even more chaotic.’ Look at what’s happened. Look at how these politicians have fallen for this junk. Russian collusion—give me a break.
So, according to Trump’s logic, the lawyer who wasn’t involved with Putin when she met with Trump’s son then conspired with Putin to concoct a fake confession that she actually does work for Putin. But in reality, she doesn’t work for Putin. Got it.
Putin critic Bill Browder had a better explanation last Friday when he told CNN that Veselnitskaya is “an agent of the Russian government. She’s an agent of Vladimir Putin, and when she went to Trump Tower, she went there on behalf of Vladimir Putin.”
That makes a little more sense.