President Trump claims he misspoke Monday, accidentally leaving out the word “not” when he said it was beyond his imagination to understand “why it would” be Russia that interfered with the 2016 election.

He claimed he was not taking Vladimir Putin’s word over the American intelligence community’s, even though that’s exactly what he’s tried to do for the last two years.

It is an unbelievable excuse, but sadly, some people will choose to believe it.

That’s the way our politics works these days. People get the news they want to hear and dismiss anything that makes them uncomfortable as fake. With his embrace of a dictator, Trump may have upset members of the political establishment on both sides of the Atlantic, but he has not lost the people who matter most to him.

Trump’s favorability rating is only 43 percent overall, according to the Gallup polling agency, but it’s 89 percent among Republicans, which is close to the highest approval rating any president has had at this stage in their administration among members of their own party.

Republican office holders, especially those who will face the voters in November, are well aware of these numbers and have been very careful in their criticism. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, from Maine’s 2nd District, issued a short statement Monday that omitted Trump’s name, praised his diplomacy but added “we must also recognize the consensus that Russia did try to interfere in our election.”


But the consensus is that they did more than try. Thirteen Russians have been indicted in a disinformation scheme that created fraudulent organizations and pumped false reports into individual swing voters’ social media accounts. Just last week, a dozen Russian intelligence agents were indicted for allegedly stealing information from computers belonging to the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign, and using it to help Trump.

The Senate Intelligence Committee found that Russian hackers tried to get into the computers of election officials in all 50 states and succeeded in some of them. They didn’t just try to interfere — they did interfere.

Sen. Susan Collins issued a statement that called Trump’s position “untenable,” which means “not able to be maintained,” but she did not say what would happen if he tries to maintain it.

Collins has served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which, unlike its counterpart in the House, has produced a bipartisan report that tries to get to the bottom of what happened in 2016.

But it’s really up to rank-and-file Republicans to decide how much they are willing to ignore. Will they continue to discount indictments from the Mueller investigation, and make up conspiracy-theory fever dreams about a deep-state coup, or will they reflect on the way that a totalitarian dictator was able to manipulate us from the other side of the world?

Unless Democrats start winning elections, Republicans control the three branches of the federal government, so they have a responsibility look beyond the partisan talking points they are getting from their favorite media outlets.

That Russia tried to swing the election for Trump is not up for debate. Why Trump would want to keep that quiet is still an open question. It’s one that Trump supporters should be asking themselves right now.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.