In preparation for a public statement meant to mitigate the damage from Monday’s news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump brought four pages of handwritten notes to a meeting with congressional leaders. In his own distinctive scrawl — using, as always, a black fine-tip marker — Trump added notes to the prepared comments. And in several instances, he struck out things he planned to skip.
You can see the four pages here, upside down and often blurry.
Tom Brenner, a photojournalist with the New York Times, tweeted a flipped version of one of the photos, noting an addition by Trump.
But a sharp-eyed Twitter user noted something else:
Zooming in on Brenner’s photograph does seem to bolster Southpaw’s assertion. The first three paragraphs of the second page of the document read:
“in saying — as I have said before — that I ACCEPT our intelligence community’s conclusions about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections.” [Here Trump added, “There was no colusion."]
“I thought I made that clear yesterday, but having just reviewed the transcript of yesterday’s press conference, I realized that there is the need for further clarification. In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘WOULD’ instead of ‘WOULDN’T.’ The sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it WOULDN’T be Russia’ — a double negative.”
“I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections. Anyone involved in that meddling to justice. [This line is struck.] Unlike previous Administrations, my Administration has [crossed-out and illegible] and will continue to move aggressively to repel any efforts to interfere in our elections. We are doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018. So there is no ambiguity, we have the best intelligence professionals in the world — as I have said many times — and I believe the findings of my intelligence people.”
This isn’t what Trump actually said. He actually said:
“… let me be totally clear in saying that — and I’ve said this many times — I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place.”
“Could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all, and people have seen that and they’ve seen that strongly. The House has already come out very strongly on that, a lot of people have come out strongly on that. …”
“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself. I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections. Unlike previous administrations, my administration has and will continue to move aggressively to repeal any efforts and repel — we will stop it, we will repel it, any efforts to interfere in our elections. We’re doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018.”
There are other changes to the document, too.
On the first page — at left in Brenner’s tweet or as above — Trump added, “for years, relations could not have [illegible] worse.”
When speaking, he said:
“I’ve always felt getting along is a positive thing and not just for that reason. I entered the meeting with the firm conviction that diplomacy and engagement is better than hostility and conflict, and I feel that with everybody.”
“We have 29 members in NATO as an example, and I have great relationships or at least very good relationships with everybody. The press covered it quite inaccurately, they said I insulted people. Well, if asking for people to pay up money that they are supposed to pay is insulting, maybe I did.”
“But I can tell you when I left, everybody was thrilled, and that’s the way this was, too. My meeting with President Putin was really interesting in so many different ways, because we haven’t had relationships with Russia for a long time and we started.”
On the third page, after another reminder in the typewritten text that there was “NO COLLUSION,” Trump struck out a paragraph reading, “Now I understand there are some in Washington who don’t want diplomacy. This rejection of diplomacy is the same mindset that dragged us into Iraq and Libya.” It’s followed by another line that is crossed out. It appears to read, “Any fool can start a war, but real [illegible] is forging peace.”
Then there’s the note on the fourth page, the last note after the last line of a statement meant to settle, once and for all, Trump’s views of his intelligence officials. The prepared remarks end, “Now, on to our discussion of taxes.” It’s followed by a note in Trump’s hand reading, “Taxes 2 point 0 — permanent middle class tax cuts.”
That line wasn’t included in Trump’s comments before the media, either.