Trump took forever to answer a direct and damning charge.
For at least 61 hours, Trump avoided directly responding to a bombshell report revealing that the FBI had opened an investigation into whether he was secretly working on behalf of Russia.
In a brief reply to a reporter's question on the White House lawn, Trump said, "I never worked for Russia. Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even asked that question. Because it's a whole big, fat hoax. It's just a hoax."
The statement was the first direct response Trump made to the new and disturbing allegation since the New York Times posted their story around 8 p.m. on Friday night. It took 61 hours for Trump to say something.
The Times reported that after Trump fired then-FBI director James Comey, law enforcement officials were "so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests."
As part of that investigation, officials "had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security." They also tried to determine if Trump was working as a Russian asset in an active capacity or unwittingly.
The concern that Trump was attempting to obstruct justice by removing Comey was also a part of the investigation.
These lines of inquiry led to the creation of the investigation currently being headed by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Despite the seriousness of the information that was reported, Trump has studiously avoided responding to the charges.
After the story was published he used his Twitter account to do his usual venting and fuming about the free press, whining about "the Failing New York Times and the corrupt former leaders of the FBI" and slamming "fake reporting" that "creates anger and disunity." He also wrote that he was "FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton."
He did a phone interview on Fox News with fan and unhinged conservative Jeanine Pirro, who asked him directly about the report — but instead of denying the information, Trump filibustered and complained that the issue had come up at all. He said the article was "insulting" and again reasserted that he's been "tougher on Russia than anybody else."
But he didn't directly deny the allegation at the heart of the story.
The denial, weak and dismissive and only a few words long, took 61 hours to come out. The hesitation combined with Trump's long track record of dishonesty and duplicity gives enormous credibility to the ongoing concerns that he is compromised and is not acting in American interests.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.