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Politics and Government

Trump Suggests FBI Missed Signs Of Fla. Shooting Because Of Russia Probe


President Trump traveled to Florida over the weekend. He was visiting survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting - also first responders there - and Trump shared pictures of these encounters on Twitter. He also used Twitter to air a list of grievances. In a series of tweets, the president targeted everyone from Hillary Clinton to Oprah to the FBI. And let's sort this out with NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

Hi, Tam.


GREENE: So I'm not going to say with authority that Twitter is a window into someone's mind. Who knows? But, I mean, make sense of all of these tweets. What was the president thinking over the weekend?

KEITH: He was mostly thinking about that indictment that came down on Friday from the Mueller investigation that - it was an indictment of 13 Russian individuals and three Russian entities, saying that Russia and these entities were conducting information warfare against the United States. And let me just try to run through some of these tweets. There were so many of them. The one that's getting the most attention came at 11 p.m. on Saturday night.

The president is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort. He tweets (reading) very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They're 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.

Of course, these are separate divisions of the FBI that are involved.

GREENE: Separate divisions, right. I mean, it's - that's - so he's really calling out the agency in a really blatant way there.

KEITH: He is. In other tweets, he says that they are laughing at us in Moscow - he used more crude language - says (reading) but wasn't I a great candidate?

And in another tweet says (reading) the Russian hoax was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia - it never did.

He never criticizes Russia in any of these tweets or talks about what he, the president of the United States, plans to do to prevent a future attack.

GREENE: What a moment. I mean, you have the Justice Department, I mean, and these indictments suggesting that Russia was so involved - again, nothing clear to say that they changed the election. But the president has decided to use this moment to basically suggest that he is in the clear and that there was no collusion. Are there - is there anything in these indictments or statements from the Justice Department to support the idea that he is in the clear somehow?

KEITH: Well, it depends on your interpretation. But Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, on Friday, said quote, "there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election." So what he's saying is in this indictment, there is nothing that the president or his campaign has to worry about. This is an ongoing investigation.

GREENE: And there could be more indictments, or maybe not, and we just don't know that yet.

KEITH: We will wait and see.

GREENE: You know, Tam, one other thing Trump tweeted in the wake of the massacre is that he is ready to work with Congress. What could that mean?

KEITH: So President Trump spoke with Senator John Cornyn on Friday. This is what the White House tells us. Senator Cornyn is a Republican from Texas. He’s working with Senator Murphy, who’s a Democrat from Connecticut. They introduced legislation after the last mass shooting - the one at that church that was just so terrible - to improve the criminal background check system the - that that shooter had sort of slipped through the cracks of the federal background check system. And so Sarah Sanders, a spokesperson for the president, says, quote, “the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.”

GREENE: All right. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith - thanks, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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