President Trump on Tuesday turned a 2016 quote from then-President Barack Obama against him in the ongoing battle over Russian interference in the election — claiming it shows Democrats are using the meddling as a belated “excuse” for losing.
Trump cited remarks made by Obama at a press conference with then-Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi just weeks before the election, in which Obama advised then-candidate Trump to “stop whining” about potential election rigging.
“There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, in part because they’re so decentralized and the numbers of votes involved,” Obama said
Trump tweeted that quote Tuesday morning, citing it as proof Democrats’ attitudes changed after he won the election.
“When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems,” he tweeted shortly after the Obama quote was cited on ‘Fox & Friends.’
Obama was addressing Trump claims that voter fraud within the U.S. could affect the election, not Russian meddling. But Trump seized on the words Tuesday to put them into the current context of Russian election meddling.
Trump’s remarks come after a federal grand jury on Friday indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for allegedly interfering in the election, in a case brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that detailed a plot to “sow discord in the U.S. political system.”
While the indictment details a sustained campaign of meddling from the Russians, who posed as politically active Americans and recruited “real Americans” to stage rallies and engage in political activities, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein noted on Friday there is no allegation that Americans knowingly conspired with the Russians or that the meddling changed the outcome of the election.
In the wake of the indictment, Trump repeatedly hailed it as vindication of his claims that the election outcome was not affected and that collusion was a false narrative. He has sought to challenge Democrats who still suggest Russian interference could have swayed the final outcome in 2016.
“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” Trump tweeted on Friday. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”
On Tuesday, Trump also claimed he had been “much tougher” on Russia than his predecessor.