US President Donald Trump said the collusion allegation between Russia and the Trump campaign is a “hoax.”
Responding to a question about his taxes during a live town hall event in Miami on Friday, October 16 (Philippine time), Trump said: “Let me tell you what else. I don’t owe money to any of these sinister people. This has been going on for years now. Russia, Russia, Russia – it turned out to be a hoax.”
The Trump administration was probed over allegations of conspiracy or coordination with Russia during the 2016 US presidential election, and allegations of obstruction of justice.
The Mueller report released in 2019 on the investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election found “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.”
While the report concluded there was not enough evidence that can be used to charge Trump's camp with criminal charges and that directly establishes the Trump team coordinated with the Russian government, the report did not say the whole issue was a hoax.
Instead, the report said that evidence of Russian government operations began to surface in mid-2016. "Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion," the report said, which was written by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (READ: Key findings of the Mueller report)
The Mueller report further said that Russia interfered in the election mainly in two ways: that a Russian entity “carried out a social media campaign” that favored Trump and denigrated Clinton, and that a Russian intelligence service hacked emails from Clinton’s election team.
Mueller also explained in a speech in May 2019 that the investigating team did not conclude whether or not Trump committed a crime because charging an incumbent president with a federal crime is unconstitutional.
During the 2020 vice presidential debates on October 8, US Vice President Mike Pence also made a similar false claim that the case was closed with no obstruction and collusion found.
Fact checking organization FactCheck.org also published on October 9 a fact check on the “Russia hoax” claim that has been repeatedly peddled by Trump supporters. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com
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