WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump, asked about the Russian national charged with attempting to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections Friday, was quick to defend himself and repeat that there was “no collusion” with his campaign.
“Had nothing to do with my campaign. You know, all of the hackers, and all of the — everybody that you see, nothing to do with my campaign,” Trump said at an event in Arizona. “If the hackers — a lot of them probably like Hillary Clinton better than me. Now they do, now they do. You know, they go after some hacker in Russia they say oh, that had nothing to do with my campaign.”
Federal prosecutors charged 44-year-old Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, of St. Petersburg, Russia, with conspiracy to defraud the United States for managing the financing of the social media troll operation that included the Internet Research Agency, which special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators charged with crimes earlier this year.
Prosecutors who unsealed the complaint Friday say she aided the Russian effort to “inflame passions” online related to immigration, gun control and the Second Amendment, the Confederate flag, race relations, LGBT issues, the Women’s March and the NFL National Anthem debate from December 2016 until May 2018.
The social media efforts specifically focused on the shootings of church members in Charleston, South Carolina, and concert attendees in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, which left one counter-protester dead, and police shootings of African-American men, the complaint says.
The criminal charge says the Russians’ online manipulation effort focused on multiple political viewpoints and candidates, but frequently zeroed in on the Republican Party’s most well-known leaders.
In his comments, Trump cast blame on his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who he said, “didn’t lift a finger” to stop Russian meddling in 2016, and said that his administration has “done a lot to protect the elections coming up very shortly.”
He emphasized that there was “no collusion whatsoever,” and pivoted to attacking Clinton as a “bad candidate” who could have “gone out more” and “worked a little bit harder.”
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