Just because the Russian government, and in fact President Vladimir Putin himself, sought to undermine American democracy doesn’t mean President-elect Donald Trump is having a change of heart about improving bilateral relations with Moscow. As Slate’s Fred Kaplan noted, the long-awaited intelligence report on election-season hacking put Trump “in an awkward spot.” After all, the report lays out that intelligence agencies all agree Putin sought to discredit Hillary Clinton in order to ensure a Trump victory. And it doesn’t mince words to say that. “Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him,” the report says, in what the New York Times describes as “unusually blunt and sweeping language.”
Despite this assessment, Trump sent a clear message that just because Russia sought to undermine American democracy, that’s no reason to not improve relations with Moscow. “Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump wrote Saturday in a series of Twitter posts. “Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think it is bad! We have enough problems around the world without yet another one.”
The president-elect also assured Americans that “Russia will respect us far more than they do now” once he moves into the White House, and the two countries will “perhaps” join forces to “solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!”
His tweets on the need to improve relations with Russia despite the intelligence report came shortly after he took a blame-the-victim approach to hacking, saying the Democratic National Committee was at fault if its computers were compromised during the election. “Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place,” he wrote.
Besides, it’s all irrelevant because there was “no evidence” that hacking had an effect on the election results, Trump wrote in a separate tweet. The only reason why the issue is even being discussed, the president-elect said, is because “the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!”
The president-elect’s latest tweets are in line with the statement Trump released after his meeting with intelligence officials in which he noted that “while Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”