trump hands up
CNN  — 

On Tuesday, something very, very important happened on Capitol Hill.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, released its long-awaited 156-page report detailing its investigation into allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election.

And what did their investigation find? That Russia engaged in a deep and broad effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 race, aiming to help Donald Trump win. “The Committee found no reason to dispute the Intelligence Community’s conclusions,” said Burr in a statement on his committee’s findings.

Which now means that the following committees and communities have concluded the exact same thing about Russia’s attempted interference in the last presidential election:

* The intelligence community

* Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation

* The Senate Intelligence Committee

President Trump sent 19 tweets (and retweets) on Tuesday, but not a single one addressed the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings. Which might be understandable given the fact that Trump is leading the effort to battle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But he did make time to tweet out an endorsement of a new book by former ICE director Tom Homan, so …

And to be honest, Trump has made his feelings about the proof that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help him very, very clear. He’s, um, skeptical.

“95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party, 53% overall,” he tweeted last month. “Not bad considering I get nothing but Fake & Corrupt News, day and night. ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’, then ‘the Ukraine Scam (where’s the Whistleblower?)’, the ‘Impeachment Hoax’, and more, more, more….”

Just after the Iowa caucuses in February failed to produce an immediate winner on the Democratic side, Trump tweeted this: “I think they should blame RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA again! If they can’t count votes properly, how are they going to run U.S. HealthCare?”

And let’s not forget that Trump, standing side-by-side with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in 2018, said this about Russian interference: “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. … And I think we’re all to blame.” And then he said this: “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

So, yeah.

Here’s the thing that the Senate Intelligence Committee report should drive home for Trump – and everyone else: it is now entirely and completely beyond dispute that Russia sought to interfere in the last presidential election to help Trump and hurt Clinton.

In order to not believe that, you have to accept that the entire intelligence community, Mueller and his entire team and the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee are ALL in on some sort of elaborate and incredibly well-coordinated scheme to deceive the American public because, uh, they all don’t like Trump or something?

It’s fanciful. It’s a conspiracy theory without even any nuggets of fact.

Why, then, is the President of the United States not convinced? Simple: Because he has never been able to hold these two ideas in his mind at the same time: 1) Russia meddled in the election to help him and 2) He’s President anyway.

Go all the way back to Helsinki. Here’s what Trump said back then about the allegations:

“That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily. And, frankly, we beat her – and I’m not even saying from the standpoint – we won that race. … We ran a brilliant campaign, and that’s why I’m President.”

In Trump’s mind, acknowledging the fact – and yes, it is a fact – that Russia tried to help him win somehow robs him of the credit for winning that he obviously thinks he so richly deserves. I did this, not Russia, Trump is essentially saying. I get the credit. Not them. Me. Me!

It’s, of course, obvious to anyone paying attention that both things can be true: Russia tried to interfere in the election and Trump ran a great race. Elections are very rarely won by a single factor alone. Luck, skill, your strengths, your opponent’s weaknesses, uncontrollable outside events – all of these things go into who wins and who loses. In 2016 and every other election.

Trump’s blindness to the Russia reality isn’t just a chapter for the history books either. Because we know Russia viewed its involvement in the 2016 race as a success and are hungry to create more chaos this November.

“We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 US elections as an opportunity to advance their interests,” then Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress in 2019. “We expect them to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences and efforts in previous elections.”

All of which means that the President’s unwillingness to accept the FACT that Russia interfered once and they will do it again makes it much more likely that we won’t be properly prepared for what’s coming over the 195 days between now and November 3.