Trump fumes about Russia probe as US nation mourns
WEST PALM BEACH – The Associated Press
As the nation mourned, U.S. President Donald Trump kept largely silent about the Florida school shooting victims and the escalating gun control debate, instead raging at the FBI for what he perceived to be a fixation on the Russia investigation at the cost of failing to deter the attack.
From the privacy of Mar-a-Lago, Trump vented about the investigation in a marathon series of tweets over the weekend. He said Feb. 18 “they are laughing their asses off in Moscow’” at the lingering fallout from the Kremlin’s election interference and that the Obama administration bears some blame for the meddling.
Trump was last seen publicly Feb. 16 night when he visited the Florida community reeling from a school shooting that left 17 dead and gave rise to a student-led push for more gun control. White House aides advised the president against golfing so soon after the tragedy, so Trump spent much of the holiday weekend watching cable television news and grousing to club members and advisers.
Trump met Feb. 19 afternoon with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, discussing immigration, taxes, infrastructure and the Florida shooting, the White House said.
Amid a growing call for action on guns, the White House said Feb. 18 the president will host a “listening session” with students and teachers this week, but offered no details on who would attend or what would be discussed.
Throughout the weekend, the president’s mind remained on Russia after an indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller on Feb. 16 charged 13 Russians with a plot to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.
Trump viewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s declaration that the indictment doesn’t show that any American knowingly participated as proof of his innocence and is deeply frustrated that the media are still suggesting that his campaign may have colluded with Russian officials, according to a person who has spoken to the president in the last 24 hours but is not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.
He has fumed to associates at Mar-a-Lago that the media “won’t let it go” and will do everything to delegitimize his presidency.
He made those complaints to members who stopped by his table Feb. 17 as he dined with his two adult sons and TV personality Geraldo Rivera.
Initially pleased with the Justice Department’s statement, Trump has since griped that Rosenstein did not go far enough in declaring that he was cleared of wrongdoing, and grew angry when his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, gave credence to the notion that Russia’s meddling affected the election, the person said.
Trump’s frustration bubbled over on Twitter, where he stressed that the Russian effort began before he declared his candidacy, asserted that the Obama administration bears some blame for the election meddling and insisted he never denied that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 U.S. campaign.
By late Feb. 18 night, Trump shifted his wide-ranging Twitter critique to Oprah Winfrey, who has played down suggestions she should run for president in 2020. Trump said her appearance as an interviewer on “60 Minutes” was “biased” and “slanted.” ‘’Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!” Trump tweeted.
James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the president was not focusing on the bigger threat.