Donald Trump faced mounting calls on Sunday to act against Russia after special counsel Robert Mueller unveiled indictments on Friday accusing 13 Russians and three companies of interfering in the 2016 presidential election to help Republicans.
Trump has attempted to spin the indictments as a personal victory, falsely claiming that they prove his campaign did not collude with the foreign power during the election and that Russian meddling had no effect on the outcome. But the president has voiced no interest in the detailed evidence contained in the indictments suggesting that those charged had targeted US democracy via online interference from as far back as 2014.
Trump took to Twitter on Sunday morning to again criticize the ongoing investigations into Russian interference. “They are laughing their asses off in Moscow,” he wrote. “Get smart America!”.
But the president faced a growing chorus of alarm from Democrats and former intelligence officials who argued Trump had done nothing to protect future elections from Russian interference and sought to draw his own political capital from the special counsel’s indictments.
James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence under the Obama administration, told CNN: “Above all this rhetoric here, again we’re losing sight of what is it we’re going to do about the threat posed by the Russians. He [Trump] never talks about that. It’s all about himself.”
Democratic senator Chris Coons of Delaware urged the president to impose further sanctions on Russia after Friday’s indictments, using the power given to him via a bipartisan vote in the senate last year. Coons also called for better engagement with allies in Europe to combat the threat posed by Vladimir Putin.
“To me the most maddening question is why is President Trump failing to act to protect our democracy when there is indisputable proof now that Russia interfered in our 2016 elections,” Coons told CBS news on Sunday.
Trump’s failure to grapple with Russia’s successful meddling in the election and inability to articulate a strategy to prevent it occurring again, has placed him at odds with the consensus among his administration’s security officials.
On Tuesday, Daniel Coates, Trump’s director of national intelligence, warned that Russia viewed the upcoming 2018 midterm elections as a “potential target”, adding there should be “no doubt” they viewed meddling in 2016 as a success.
On Saturday the president’s national security adviser HR McMaster told a conference in Germany that Mueller’s indictments highlighted that the evidence was “now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain”.
Following McMaster’s remarks Trump once again took to Twitter late on Saturday in an attempt to correct his own official by falsely claiming again that McMaster had “forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians”. Trump also alleged, without evidence that the Democrats had colluded with Russia during the election.
John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager who had his emails hacked in a cyber attack attributed to a Russian backed group, also called on Trump to impose tougher sanctions on the Putin government.
“If this is information warfare, then I think he’s [Trump] the first draft-dodger in the war. I mean, he has done nothing but tried to undermine the Mueller investigation,” Podesta told CBS News.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010