A new report from The Wall Street Journal confirms that the Trump Administration planned to use the Mueller indictment to look strong against Putin.
For much of the White House, Mr. Trump’s conduct at the news conference with Mr. Putin on Monday was wholly unexpected. Administration officials ahead of the summit had crafted a plan for Mr. Trump to confront Mr. Putin on Russia’s electoral interference, officials said.
Before the summit, Mr. Trump had authorized the Justice Department to release an indictment of 12 Russians who allegedly hacked into Democratic computers during the 2016 campaign, agreeing it would strengthen his hand when he raised the issue of election interference, a White House official said.
In preparatory meetings, Mr. Trump and his aides discussed using the indictment to forcefully make the case. The plan was for Mr. Trump to invoke the indictment both in private meetings and in the public news conference afterward, a White House official said. The idea, the official said, was to “shove it in Putin’s face and look strong doing it,” depicting it as hard evidence of Russian crimes against America’s electoral process.
“He did the exact opposite,” the official said. During the news conference, Mr. Trump appeared to side with Mr. Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies, saying he saw no reason why Russia would have interfered in the election. On Tuesday, he said he meant to say he saw no reason why Russia wouldn’t have interfered.
It is unknown who the White House official is but the information given is strong. It gives us another look into Donald Trump’s mindset. It is clear that Trump’s advisors are telling him that it was Russia behind the meddling and he must stay on that narrative. Trump, however, seems to not fully believe this.