A few years ago, Politifact named President Obama’s statement that “you can keep your doctor,” the website’s Lie of the Year. This year that dubious honor will go to President Trump for his repeated denial of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“When the nation’s commander-in-chief refuses to acknowledge a threat to U.S. democracy, it makes it all the more difficult to address the problem,“ Politifact said. “For this reason, we name Trump’s claim that the Russia interference is a hoax as our Lie of the Year for 2017.”
At times, the president has conceded that Russia meddled in the election, but as recently as last month Trump said that he believed Russian President Putin’s claim that Russia did not have a role in the election interference. At the same time, Trump said that he also believed US intelligence agencies who have pinned the blame for the cyberattacks squarely on Putin’s government.
There are two separate Russia tracks to the Russia story. The first is the accusation that Russia interfered with the election through “fake news,” the hacking of Democrat emails and cyberattacks on the voting infrastructure. There is ample evidence to support this aspect of the Russia story, which was the subject of a report released by US intelligence agencies last January. Many Trump Administration officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Mattis and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, have all confirmed Russia’s meddling in the election.
The second aspect to the Russia story is the possibility of collusion by members of the Trump campaign. Collusion has not been confirmed, but campaign emails show that members of the Trump campaign were open to working with Putin’s Russia.
Trump acknowledged that Russia had attacked the election last January, but waffled on the issue afterward. In July, the president said, “It could have very well been Russia but it could well have been other countries and I won't be specific but I think a lot of people interfered.”