Politico Magazine chief editor Blake Hounshell has long been a skeptic of theories that President Donald Trump somehow colluded with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
In the wake of Trump’s infamous press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, however, Hounshell is throwing up his hands and admitting he got it wrong.
In a new column posted Friday, Hounshell writes that Trump’s performance over the last week — in which he has attacked NATO allies, trashed British Prime Minister Theresa May hours before a state visit with her, and refused to say whether he believes his own intelligence agencies more than Putin — has left him unable to think of a reasonable explanation for his behavior other than being somehow compromised by Russia.
“Facts are piling up, and it’s getting harder to deny what’s staring us in the face,” he writes.
Hounshell then goes through all of the possible past explanations for Trump’s actions and breaks down why none of them hold up after the past week.
“Nobody would say his odd solicitousness toward the Kremlin leader is a political winner, and it certainly causes an unnecessary amount of friction with Republicans in Congress,” he writes. “He’s kept it up at great political cost to himself, and that suggest either that he is possessed by an anomalous level of conviction on this one issue, despite his extraordinary malleability on everything else—or that he’s beholden to Putin in some way.”
Hounshell concludes by predicting that Trump will soon try to once again question the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered — and he says this should strike deep fear into the hearts of U.S. allies.
“Trump may have grudgingly admitted that Russia did the deed, but nobody should be surprised if he starts shedding doubt on it all over again,” he writes. “Maybe, just maybe, he can’t admit that Moscow tried to put him in the Oval Office because he’s under strict instructions not to.”