Donald Trump didn’t have any control over the decision by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to mount what it called “information warfare against the United States of America.” As the indictment released on Friday stated, the effort began in 2014, long before Trump was a declared candidate—much less a serious one—for office.
But by refusing to take information warfare seriously—in an attempt to distance himself from it and any questions it might raise about the legitimacy of his election—the president has paradoxically made the story about himself again and again.
This solipsism was on display Saturday and Sunday morning, as Trump, at Mar-a-Lago and far from the strictures and structures of the White House, unleashed his most aggressive and scattered tweetstorm in some time. In theory, the things he said were designed to push the story away from himself and downplay any connection. In practice, he forced himself into the middle of the story, inextricably linking himself to it.
Over a series of tweets, Trump attacked the FBI; politicized the Parkland shooting for his own vindication; suggested collusion was no big deal; blamed Obama for the collusion; and said the real collusion involved Hillary Clinton. He undermined his national-security adviser; lied about denying that Russia meddled in the election; and finished with an appeal to numbers, citing an infamously unreliable pollster.