“Let me just say three little words,” Brooke Baldwin said after CNN aired President Donald Trump’s “clarification” about Russian meddling in the 2016 election during his joint press conference with Vladimir Putin. “This is ridiculous.”
Reading from a typed statement on Tuesday at the White House, President Trump said, “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.’ Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things.”
As Baldwin and her CNN colleagues spent several minutes explaining, it most certainly does not.
“If only that entire unbelievably, historically embarrassing spectacle could have been fixed with an ‘n,’ an apostrophe and a ‘t,’” Dana Bash said. “That is about as far of a stretch as any one of us could imagine. I guess he gets points for being creative there.”
“Maybe that was the one sentence that could have been different, but what about calling Vladimir Putin strong and tough?” Bash continued. “What about not calling him out on the world stage, never mind interfering in American elections, calling him out on Crimea, calling him out on the poisoning of somebody in Britain and the list goes on and on and on?”
She added, “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but what he just did almost makes what happened yesterday worse.”
“It's the old double negative defense, right?” Gloria Borger asked. “I mean, come on, this is absurd. You know, give me a break here. This president looked like he was in a hostage tape reading a script that others had written for him, that he clearly did not want to read but he was told you absolutely had to read.” She pointed out that “in the few moments where he allowed himself to be Donald Trump” he completely contradicted himself by saying “could be other people” besides Russian operatives who meddled in the election.
From there, Jim Sciutto noted that Trump “said several things yesterday that undermined the intelligence community's assessment, not just that line with the double negative on ‘would’ or ‘wouldn't.’” To him, Trump’s latest explanation was downright “Orwellian.”
“You are trying to contradict a video record of something that happened less than 24 hours ago with a specious defense here on one word and, listen, there will be people who will buy it,” Sciutto said. “But all you have to do is repeatedly roll that tape again, both of yesterday and today where he contradicts himself on videotape. And if you don't believe that, then you will never believe the facts, I suppose.”
“How gullible, with a slip, does he think Americans or the world is?” Baldwin asked in disbelief.