/ 16 July 2018

Trump blames Russia rift on US probe, Moscow agrees

Illogical: United States President Donald Trump
He says it himself: Even though Trump is not on the ballot, he is at the heart of the 2018 vote. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

Donald Trump on Monday blamed bad relations between Moscow and Washington on the US investigation into alleged Russian election meddling — and Russia promptly agreed.

Setting the scene just hours ahead of his summit with Vladimir Putin, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at US special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted, with a swipe at his White House predecessors.

Many Twitter users expressed anger or surprise that a US leader had blamed his own country for the rift, despite Russia’s interventions in Syria and Ukraine and alleged subversion of Western elections.

But the Russian foreign ministry was delighted, jumping in through its official Twitter account to first “like” Trump’s message then to retweet it with a clear response: “We agree.”

Last week, Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking computer servers used by Trump’s 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton, then leaking private emails to damage her campaign.

Trump has furiously denied his own campaign colluded in the alleged interference, and has generally denounced the special investigation as a “witch hunt” promoted by his enemies to delegitimise his victory.

At the same time, the US leader has promised to bring up the issue on Monday at his summit with Putin in Helsinki — but has been vague on whether he will call on Moscow to extradite the indicted suspects.