White House Omits Critical Question From Trump-Putin Press Conference VideoAn incredulous Rachel Maddow pointed out the omission during her MSNBC show Tuesday.The White House appears to have deleted a critical question from a video of President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s July 16 press conference in Helsinki.
“The U.S. government is essentially following the Kremlin’s playbook,” said MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow as she pointed out the “misleading” omission during her show on Tuesday night.
White House edits video to remove question about whether Putin wanted Trump to win. pic.twitter.com/ExlsHNlgF8
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) July 25, 2018
During the press conference, Reuters reporter Jeff Mason had asked President Putin the question: “Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”
The Russian leader responded, “Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”
As Maddow revealed during her show, the White House’s video of the event omitted the first part of Mason’s question. Only the second part — about directing officials to help Trump — was included.
“What the White House has disappeared from the official U.S. government record of that meeting … is President Putin answering in the affirmative when asked if he wanted Trump to win the election,” Maddow said.
The Atlantic had been the first outlet to point out this discrepancy, noting last week that neither the White House transcript of the exchange nor its live-stream of the press conference had included Mason’s full question to Putin. The White House didn’t immediately provide an explanation for this, The Atlantic said.
As the outlet noted at the time, Putin’s response to Mason’s query had already been ambiguous, as it was unclear whether he was answering the first or second part of the question when he said, “Yes, I did.”
The Reuters reporter told The Atlantic, however, that he believed Putin had likely been responding to the first part of the question — the very part the White House has omitted.
“You could interpret [Putin’s response] to mean he’s answering ‘yes’ to both,” Mason said. ”[But] looking at it critically, he spent a good chunk of that press conference, just like President Trump did, denying any collusion. So I think it’s likely that when he said ‘Yes, I did,’ that he was just responding to the first part of my question and perhaps didn’t hear the second part.”
While the White House record of the press conference provided an incomplete picture of Putin’s response, the Kremlin nixed the exchange between Mason and the Russian president entirely from its transcript of the event.
“At least the White House had the courtesy to leave in half of his question so you can get a misleading answer,” Maddow quipped. “The Russians just disappeared [Mason] altogether … They skip over that entire exchange.”
The Atlantic said last week that it was possible the White House’s omission was accidental but Maddow challenged that suggestion on Tuesday, saying the administration has since had plenty of time to correct the error.
“The U.S. government is essentially following the Kremlin’s playbook and maintaining that something we all saw happen with our own eyes, we all heard happen with our own ears, has nevertheless disappeared ― like old political opponents being airbrushed out of photos,” she said. “It’s weird, right? It’s creepy.”
“It turns out it wasn’t a mistake. It was on purpose,” Maddow added.