WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said Sunday he believes Russia has been wildly successful in disrupting the U.S. political landscape with its interference in the 2016 election because of the subsequent months-long investigations it spawned.
"If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S.," Trump said in a Twitter comment, "then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and (Republican) Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!"
In a string of tweets over several hours, the U.S. leader continued to assail the probe into his campaign's links to Russia.
Trump was also critical of H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, who said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of Russian interference in the election, a day after special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with conducting an illegal "information warfare" campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential election and help Trump win.
"I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said 'it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer,' Trump tweeted. "The Russian 'hoax' was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia - it never did!"
Trump said McMaster "forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia" and his Democratic opponent, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats. Trump said McMaster overlooked Democratic funding of political opposition research in a controversial dossier alleging shady Trump links to Russian operatives.
Trump sarcastically praised one of his political opponents, Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, for saying that the administration of former President Barack Obama could have done more to thwart overseas cyberattacks after the 2014 hack into the files of the entertainment company Sony Pictures.
"I think that others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention," Schiff said in an interview on NBC.
Trump tweeted, "Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!"
Trump added, "Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, led by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?
Trump has long contended that his campaign did not collude with Russia, even as the U.S. intelligence community and now Mueller have concluded that Russia conducted a wide campaign to meddle in the election to help Trump win.
Mueller's indictment of the Russian interests contended that the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based social media company with Kremlin ties, 12 of its employees, and its financial backer orchestrated the effort.
None of the defendants charged in the indictment are in custody, according to a Mueller spokesman. The U.S. and Russia don’t have an extradition treaty and it's unlikely that any of the defendants will stand trial in the U.S.
The 37-page charging document alleges that the Russian conspirators sought to coordinate their effort with Trump campaign associates, but it does not accuse anyone on the Trump campaign of colluding with the Russians.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that the Russian conspirators sought to “promote social discord in the United State and undermine public confidence in democracy.”
The indictment marks the first time Mueller’s office has brought charges against Russians and Russian entities for meddling in the 2016 election.
Mueller’s sprawling investigation has led to the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates on money laundering charges in connection with their lobbying efforts in Ukraine that predates Trump's 2016 campaign.
Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russian officials and are cooperating with Mueller's probe.
In addition to investigating the Russian meddling in the election, Mueller is probing whether Trump has in several ways obstructed justice to undermine the investigation, including his firing of former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the agency's Russia probe at the time Trump ousted him. Mueller, over Trump's objections, was then appointed by Rosenstein to take over the Russia probe.