Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump heaped praise on Vladimir Putin, defended the dictator’s actions, and repeated talking points like criticizing NATO that could have been written in the Kremlin. He even called on Russian hackers to release Hillary Clinton’s emails saying they will be “rewarded mightily by our press.”
Yet Trump and his team repeatedly cast doubt on reports of Russia’s interference in the election and vehemently denied that they had any contact with Russia during the campaign. That lie came crashing down last night in a bombshell New York Times report.
Here are at least four times we now know President Trump, Vice President Pence, and their top aides misled the American people about the campaign’s contact with Russia:
January 11, 2017: President Trump
CECILIA VEGA: Did you or anyone in your campaign have contact with Russia leading up to or during the campaign? Nothing at all?
DONALD TRUMP: No not at all.
January 15, 2017: Vice President Pence
JOHN DICKERSON: Just to button up one question, did any advisor or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE: Of course not. And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.
December 28, 2016: Kellyanne Conway
JOHN DICKERSON: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Absolutely not. And I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it’s a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false, but it’s dangerous and it does undermine our democracy.
February 14, 2017: Sean Spicer
JONATHAN KARL: Now today, can you still say definitively that nobody on the Trump campaign — not even General Flynn — had any contact with the Russians before the election?
SEAN SPICER: My understanding is that what General Flynn has now expressed is that during the transition period — well, we were very clear that during the transition period, he did — he did speak with the ambassador.
JONATHAN KARL: I’m talking about during the campaign.
SEAN SPICER: I don’t have any — I — there’s nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with respect to that time period.