no avatar

Trump says Russia case distracted FBI from stopping Florida school shooter

By Tracy Wilkinson • Feb 18, 2018 at 4:00 PM

WASHINGTON — Still silent on the role gun access played in last week’s Florida school massacre, President Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI and suggested that the Russia election-meddling investigation impeded an opportunity to stop the teenage shooter.

In a series of 15 Twitter posts over 19 hours late Saturday and early Sunday, Trump said it was “very sad” that the FBI missed clues from Nikolas Cruz, accused of the school attack, because the agency was preoccupied with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign. He provided no evidence to back up the assertion.

“This is not acceptable,” Trump wrote. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Later he wrote that Russians “are laughing their asses off in Moscow,” because they had “succeeded beyond their wildest dreams” in sowing discord in the U.S.

The Twitter posts seemed aimed at controlling damage from Friday’s FBI indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian companies accused of orchestrating an elaborate, secret campaign using social media to undermine the candidacy of Hillary Clinton while promoting Trump.

By trying to shift the debate, Trump seems to be attempting to conflate the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI’s acknowledged failure to pursue tips it received about Cruz’s plans.

Trump has not commented on the damning findings of the Mueller indictment, which showed how Russian operatives infiltrated U.S. social media and public debate, or on how to prevent it from happening again. All major U.S. intelligence agencies are warning that Russians will also interfere in the upcoming midterm elections.

Instead, Trump has emphasized that the indictment did not specifically target his campaign for criminal wrongdoing.

Trump also took a swipe at his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who said Saturday that the indictment proved that Russian meddling was beyond dispute.

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians,” Trump wrote before launching into his familiar accusation that it was Clinton who colluded with the Russians.

McMaster spoke at an international security conference in Munich, which was also attended by senior Russian officials. The Russians called the Mueller indictment “blabber” and fantasy.

Meanwhile, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a frequent critic of Trump, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that although the FBI made a “terrible mistake” in dropping the ball on Cruz, it was “absurd” to link that to the Russian investigation.


©2018 Los Angeles Times

Visit Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Recommended for You