In a July 18 interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas attempted to explain President’s Trump’s zigzagging claims about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by doing just what got Trump in so much trouble: disputing the integrity and motives of the U.S. intelligence community, while accepting those of a foreign adversary. And in the course of that effort, Gohmert embellished a Putin whopper to mean something entirely different than the apparent falsehood told by the Russian president.
After Trump’s July 16 press conference in Helsinki with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, the so-called leader of the free world found himself in hot water with some of his fellow Republicans for appearing to take Putin’s word on the subject over that of his own intelligence officers. And just as Trump implied of the FBI during his Putin presser, Gohmert accused the U.S. intelligence community of trying to throw the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton.
During the Helsinki press conference, Putin made the outlandish claim that business associates of American-born businessman and Putin foe Bill Browder provided $400 million to the Clinton campaign—a claim that PolitiFact rated “Pants on Fire.”
Not to be outdone, Gohmert took that $400 million and moved it into another column—an imagined fifth column, you might say.
“I think the biggest blockbuster out of [Trump’s] press conference with Putin,” Gohmert said, “was Putin disclosing that they have evidence that the U.S. intelligence community provided over $400 million to Hillary Clinton for her campaign.”
Gohmert then suggested, “So, that’s something that we probably need to follow up on, and find out more about.”
If you somehow missed that blockbuster, it was possibly because Putin didn’t exactly lay blame at the feet of the entire U.S. intelligence community. In fact, Putin, in his unsubstantiated assertion, said that Russia has “solid evidence that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions.” He coyly doesn’t specify which country’s intelligence officers may allegedly have been involved. (Browder is a citizen of the United Kingdom.)
In addition, Gohmert pooh-poohed as old news any attempt by Russia to influence U.S. elections, and painted U.S. government officials as clandestine Hillary Clinton operatives. (As RWW reported on July 17, Gohmert accused tech company officials at a House Judiciary Committee hearing of taking up the Democrats’ brief against Russia.)
“Most anybody that’s been paying attention should know that for the last 70 years, Russia has attempted to influence our elections…,” Gohmert told CBN. “We know the Justice Department was doing everything they could—at the top, at least—to help Hillary. We knew the intelligence community, at least at the top, was doing what they could to help Hillary.”
And somehow, still, against all that alleged powerful clandestine opposition, Trump managed to win the election while losing the popular vote. Go figure.