Tuesday afternoon at the White House, Donald Trump read from prepared remarks that attempted dubiously to walk back his Monday comments about not being convinced that Russian operatives stole Democrats’ emails during the 2016 campaign. He followed this with some perfunctory language about respecting the various executive-branch agencies that have concluded Russia was, in fact, responsible:
I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections. Unlike previous administrations, my administration has and will continue to move aggressively to repeal any efforts—and repel, we will stop it, we will repel it—any efforts to interfere in our elections.
What CNBC White House reporter Christina Wilkie noticed on an image of Trump’s remarks taken by New York Times photographer Tom Brenner is that the president apparently used a Sharpie to cross out the phrase “anyone involved in that meddling to justice” out of his typed comments in that particular section. Click through to the tweet to expand the image:
The “justice” language is a sentence fragment, which suggests that it was perhaps left by mistake in the printed remarks after a grammatically complete promise to bring anyone involved in meddling to justice was deleted from an earlier draft. Whatever happened, though, it seems clear that the president did not, under any circumstances, want to publicly promise to prosecute everyone involved in 2016 election hacking.
(As Brenner notes, Trump also wrote in an ad-lib about there having been “no colusion [sic]” between his campaign and Russia.”)