Republicans Are Shaken After Helsinki, but Still Fear Trump’s Voters

In the wake of his historically disastrous summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump is bouncing back and forth like a ping-pong ball, grudgingly making halfhearted statements in support of the US intelligence community with one breath and then contradicting it with the next. Republicans in Congress are desperate for him to clean up the mess he made, but he just keeps making new ones.

He issued a ludicrous walk-back on Tuesday (reportedly drafted by unctuous factotum Stephen Miller), insisting that he only made one tiny little mistake in an otherwise bravura press conference performance. Trump claimed that his now-notorious line, “I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be” should have been “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be.” This not only doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t in any way mitigate all the obsequious fawning and obvious willingness to ignore his own government’s findings, even as Putin stood there and trolled him so hard he could barely keep from laughing out loud.

Since then, Trump has offered CBS News a muddled account of his supposed discussion about election interference during his two-hour private conversation with Putin:

Very strong on the fact that we can’t have meddling, we can’t have any of that — now look, we’re also living in a grown up world. Will a strong statement — you know, President Obama supposedly made a strong statement, nobody heard it, what they did hear is the statement he made to Putin’s very close friend. And that statement was not acceptable. Didn’t get very much play, relatively speaking. But that statement was not acceptable. But I let him know we can’t have this, we’re not going to have it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.

Later on Wednesday, when asked by a reporter at a White House photo op if he believed the Russian government was planning to interfere in the upcoming election, Trump…

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