The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘They are laughing their asses off in Moscow’: Trump takes on the FBI, Russia probe and 2016 election

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announces the indictment of 13 Russians linked to a troll farm as part of the special counsel investigation. (Video: The Washington Post)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump questioned the intensifying special counsel investigation of his 2016 campaign and his administration while attacking his own national security adviser, the FBI, Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, Democrats in Congress, CNN and others in a remarkable nine-hour span of tweets that included profanity and misspellings.

Posting on Twitter from his Mar-a-Lago estate here, he railed against the latest findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team, which on Friday filed 13 indictments against Russians and alleged that a St. Petersburg-run interference effort in the 2016 campaign was intended to push voters toward Trump and away from Clinton, his Democratic rival.

Trump has chafed at accusations that he had any help, resisting calls to decry Russian meddling and take more action against it even as he has fired and threatened to fire law enforcement officials investigating him and frequently ranted on Twitter.

Trump criticizes FBI for failure to probe tip on Fla. shooter, says ‘too much time’ spent on Russia probe

“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer,’” Trump tweeted at 7:33 a.m. Sunday. “The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia — it never did!”

About 30 minutes later, he added: “If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!”

While unleashing fury on a number of targets, the president had nothing to say about the Russian individuals and three companies indicted, their allegedly elaborate operation and the Russian government’s alleged role in running it.

Trump, ensconced at Mar-a-Lago, has so far stayed away from his nearby golf course in what aides describe as a decision intended to show respect for the 17 people killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., last week.

The president has instead spent much of his time watching television and tweeting, aides said. After a string of tweets Saturday afternoon, he dined with talk-show host Geraldo Rivera and the president’s two adult sons before returning to his quarters for more posts.

The tweet that bothered several people around him the most was his direct attack Saturday evening on the FBI — and effectively tying the Parkland massacre to the Russia probe.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” he wrote just after 11 p.m. Saturday. “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Attacking the FBI for missing a tip regarding the suspected Florida shooter — a significant blunder that the bureau admitted to Friday — while funerals are still being held for the victims was in itself a remarkable move by the president. The special counsel’s investigation, which is run separately from the main Justice Department, has nothing to do with the missed tip.

Trump has pushed for changes at the Justice Department and the FBI, accusing leaders at both agencies of being biased against him.

National security adviser sees proof of Russian hacking as ‘incontrovertible,’ prompting rebuke from Trump

Whether there was any cooperation between the Trump campaign or its allies with Russia is still under investigation by Mueller’s team. On Friday, the special counsel described an elaborate Internet system designed to interfere in the election, with workers creating ads, staging rallies, traveling to the United States, and being encouraged to support Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) over Clinton. Prosecutors said “unwitting” Americans were involved but did not accuse any Americans of a crime in the Friday indictments.

President Trump continues to insist the Democrats are responsible for any story relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Video: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Trump has wavered publicly on whether Russia interfered in the election to benefit him, even though all the U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that it did. After national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday that Russia was to blame, Trump scolded him publicly in another tweet. Trump has clashed with McMaster at times, and aides have said that the president finds McMaster too professorial.

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” Trump said.

Trump often refers to Clinton as “Crooked H.” The “Dirty Dossier” refers to a set of memorandums compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele that is being examined by the special counsel and includes information and claims about Trump’s dealings in Russia. “Uranium” is a reference to a deal that gave Russia an ownership stake in the U.S. uranium market that required approval from a multiagency board that included Clinton’s State Department.

The speeches and emails Trump cites seem to refer to paid speeches by Clinton and her use of a private email server in her basement while she was secretary of state. The Podesta Group was lobbying firm, now dissolved, that was led by Democrat powerhouse Tony Podesta.

In a separate tweet, Trump also revived criticism of the return of $1.7 billion that had been owed to Iran as part of the broader nuclear agreement with Tehran.

It was unclear what any of those had to do with Russian meddling in the election.

In another tweet, the target of Trump’s wrath was Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who frequently appears on cable news programs in interviews about the panel’s Russia investigation.

“Finally, Liddle’ Adam B. Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election,” Trump tweeted at 7:22 a.m. Sunday. “He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!”

In the end, the tide of messages was summed  by a tweet he posted at about 8 a.m.

“The Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election,” Trump tweeted. “But wasn’t I a great candidate?”

Read more:

How Trump’s skepticism of U.S. intelligence on Russia left an election threat unchecked

The 21st-century Russian sleeper agent is a troll with an American accent

Trump administration assault on bipartisan immigration plan ensured its demise