2020 Democratic hopeful Beto O'Rourke reiterated his claims Monday that President Trump is acting “in the interests of Russia", despite a CNN anchor posing his question differently. Wolf Blitzer wondered if O’Rourke would insist on his earlier claims that Trump was the real "Russian asset" in the election rather than Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, recently attacked by Hillary Clinton as a "Russian asset".
When asked if he had "any evidence" to back up his claim, O’Rourke recounted some details from the 2016 Trump campaign that he personally remembered:
"As a candidate in 2016, he asked on a stage for all the public to see for Russia to find Hillary Clinton's emails. We know that Russia followed suit that very day, agents began to track down Hillary Clinton's emails", O'Rourke started off before proceeding, opting for strong words to blatantly accuse Trump of being unpatriotic:
"We saw him as president on that stage in Helsinki, Finland, next to Vladimir Putin, defending the leader of Russia that had invaded and attacked our country instead of the intelligence community here in the United States".
He went on to bring up accusations of "obstructing justice" in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, and couldn’t help but note how the president asked Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens. Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report on his two-year investigation in April, in which he said he found no grounds for accusing US President Donald Trump of collusion with Russia during his 2016 campaign. However, the extensive redactions in the publicly released version of the report have given Trump's opponents hope that the document may contain something that they can use to underpin their allegations of a wrongful victory in the 2016 presidential elections. Both Trump and Russia have outright denied any collusion.
O’Rourke claimed toward the end of the verbal barrage that “beyond the shadow of a doubt" Trump has "taken the side of Russia" instead of the US.
In response, Blitzer chose to ask a couple more straightforward questions, perhaps anticipating no less frank and direct replies:
"Are you suggesting that he's getting orders from Moscow?" Blitzer asked.
Yet, the former congressman thought a bit of generalisation would be more appropriate:
"I'm suggesting he's working in the interests of Russia and defying the interests of the United States", O'Rourke replied.
Blitzer didn’t give in, though, persisting with his yes/no grilling:
”So, you're not backing away from your accusation that he's a Russian asset", the anchor asked.
"I think he's working at the best interest of Russia working counter to the interest of this country", O'Rourke reiterated.
Over this past weekend, when the Gabbard-Clinton non-face-to-face exchange of barbs hit the news, O’Rourke threw his weight behind his fellow party rival for the 2020 nomination, arguing at the same time that it would be a “false media” approach to chew over the intra-Democratic spats:"I think I could play into this false media narrative that seeks to pit Democrats against one another over a spurious allegation, or we can focus on the fact that there is a Russian asset in the White House right now doing the bidding of a foreign power against the interests of America", O'Rourke said on MSNBC.
Former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly implied Gabbard is a 'Russian-supported' presidential candidate, with the public bringing up her earlier statement that Gabbard is a “Russian asset”, just like another candidate Jill Stein. Gabbard hit back with a fiery tweet, mincing no words as she dubbed Clinton “the queen of warmongers, the embodiment of corruption, and personification of rot".
*CORRECTION: The text of this article has been amended to reflect the fact that Mrs. Clinton was apparently referring to the Republican Party, not “the Russians,” when she mentioned that someone was “grooming” a third-party candidate for the 2020 race.