During his press conference with Vladimir Putin in Finland on Monday, Donald Trump was given a chance to walk back his tweet from earlier in the day blaming poor U.S.–Russia relations on past American presidents and Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in U.S. politics. The real culprit, according to Trump, was not Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election or illegal annexation of Crimea or support for Syria’s murderous dictator, but rather “many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” (“We agree,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry tweeted in response to the American president.)
“Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular?” asked Jeff Mason of Reuters. At first it seemed like Trump might: “I hold both countries responsible,” the president said. “We have both made some mistakes.” But that was essentially the extent of his reflection on Russia’s actions. He proceeded to boast about his victory over Hillary Clinton, deny that his campaign colluded with the Russian government, and describe Mueller’s probe into the Kremlin’s efforts to disrupt the U.S. democratic process—not the efforts themselves—as a “disaster for our country” because it’s driving a wedge between the United States and Russia.