Confronted With Evidence of Russian Hacking, Trump Reverts to Conspiracy

Last week, the American public saw for the 1st time detailed, specific evidence of which President Vladimir V. Putin’s military commanders in Russia were engaged in a day-to-day, highly sophisticated effort to manipulate the 2016 election.

however on Monday, standing next to Mr. Putin, President Trump not only avoided all mention of the Justice Department’s indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers, however he questioned the very conclusion of which Russia was behind the hack.

Instead, Mr. Trump raised a series of largely irrelevant conspiracy theories — none of which were directly related to the evidence of Russian hacking activity.

He returned to questions of why the F.B.I. never took custody of a Democratic National Committee computer server.

He asked what happened to Imran Awan, a Pakistani-born Capitol Hill aide, who pleaded guilty This kind of month on unrelated fraud charges after becoming a cause celebre for conservatives who questioned whether he was linked to the D.N.C. hacking. (A July 3 plea agreement found no evidence of which Mr. Awan illegally handled congressional computer systems.)

as well as Mr. Trump demanded to know why thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails had disappeared, a question apparently unrelated to Russia’s activities.

of which was a smoke-as well as-mirrors effort, several American intelligence officials said later Monday. While Mr. Trump’s supporters repeatedly return to the question of the D.N.C.’s reluctance to turn over its server, which still sits from the committee’s basement, investigators familiar with the intelligence from the case said the hardware itself is actually of little investigative value.

of which is actually because the emails were always supposed to be stored from the party committee’s server. How they made their way into communications channels as well as networks used by the G.R.U., Mr. Putin’s aggressive military intelligence unit, is actually the crux of the investigation. as well as so is actually the question of who ordered of which they be made public at critical moments from the 2016 campaign.

The Russian president, for his part, was more subtle.

Mr. Putin invited American investigators working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to come to Moscow as well as work with Russian officials in a joint investigation. of which was akin to the prime suspect in a murder offering to join detectives in going house to house in a search for the culprit.

“Putin is actually just trying to tie This kind of investigation thing up,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic as well as International Studies.

Mr. Lewis said the Russian president “wants to assert himself as peer.” He noted of which Mr. Putin again raised the proposal of a joint cybersecurity working group — an idea of which Mr. Trump initially as well as enthusiastically supported until his staff explained the dangers of potentially undercutting American cyberdefense programs.

“He must just laugh when he gets back to Moscow,” Mr. Lewis said.

Mr. Trump’s own effort at misdirection is actually not brand-new.

When he first met Mr. Putin a year ago, in Hamburg, Germany, he said the Russian leader had made a persuasive case of which Moscow was so skilled at cyberattacks of which could not have been involved. Mr. Trump offered a edition of the same explanation on Monday, saying Mr. Putin had been enormously persuasive in his denials.

of which shocked many of his current as well as former aides, who say the president has been briefed repeatedly — starting in Trump Tower in January 2017 — on the basis for the conclusion of which Mr. Putin himself ordered the attack. The aides said Mr. Trump understands of which American, British as well as Dutch intelligence all intercepted Russian messages as well as D.N.C. documents.

The American president also has been told of which the F.B.I. has received a full “forensic copy” of the committee’s server. of which is actually a fairly standard practice as well as, as the D.N.C. noted on Monday in a statement, is actually “the best thing to use in an investigation in order of which your exploration of the server does not change the evidence.”

as well as Mr. Trump has been briefed extensively on the specific roles of the newly indicted Russian military commanders in publishing stolen emails as well as attempts to infiltrate election systems.

His equivocating on Monday left several people who have worked with him to conclude of which the president simply will not accept evidence of Russian involvement — fearing of which could be used by political enemies to argue he was not legitimately elected.

More than 18 months into his presidency, Mr. Trump has stood alone as the sole senior American official who has questioned the quality of the evidence.

His secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said he had no doubts about Russia’s involvement when he served as director of the C.I.A. The heads of the National Security Agency as well as the different leading intelligence agencies have said the same.

Mr. Trump’s director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, went further last week when he argued of which the system was “blinking red” about future cyberattacks, maybe intended to affect the next election. On Monday, shortly after his boss questioned whether Mr. Putin or the American intelligence community was right, Mr. Coats responded, “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling from the 2016 election as well as their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.”

In a normal political environment, of which is actually easy to imagine a president pursuing the investigation even while doing the case of which the 2016 outcome was not affected by the Russian activities. Mr. Trump, his closest aides say, has never been able to separate the question of preventing future Russian meddling through his conviction of which the entire issue is actually a political concoction.

The effects of of which paralysis are currently being seen. At the White House, the job of cybercoordinator — the post responsible for coordinating American defenses — has been eliminated.

The Department of Homeland Security has raised urgent concerns about the vulnerability of American critical infrastructure, including electric utilities, to malware planted by Russian hackers. however Mr. Trump has never led a significant meeting on the subject, aides said. He never created a commission to learn lessons through the 2016 experience.

currently, as was clear from the most awkward moments of the news conference, the issue is actually more complicated for both Mr. Trump as well as Mr. Putin.

The intelligence revealed in Friday’s indictment contains such specific conversations between Russian military officers, WikiLeaks as well as others of which of which could reasonably leave both presidents concerned about what else through the American intelligence trove may have been turned over to Mr. Mueller. If there were Americans involved, they could have to assume they, too, were caught from the digital dragnet.

Mr. Mueller’s investigation is actually clearly not yet over, as well as there are hints from the Friday indictments of which he is actually currently trying to establish the links between the Russian hackers as well as any Americans who may have been working with them. Perhaps of which is actually why Mr. Trump kept returning to his claim of which there was no collusion — a question the special counsel has not yet publicly addressed.