Chris Cillizza and a CNN ‘supervising producer’ selectively quote Trump on Russia, and it’s BAD

While departing the White House this morning, President Donald Trump took questions from the press on Russia and poisoned spy Sergei Skripal.

Trump clearly said, according to CNN’s own tweet here, “It sounds to me like [the British] believe it was Russia, and I would certainly take that finding as fact.” Trump goes on to say that he’s speaking with Theresa May later today and, to us, it sounds like he doesn’t want to get ahead of whatever unified message they decide to release. Watch for yourself:

President Trump on UK investigation into poisoning of Russian former spy: “It sounds to me like they believe it was Russia, and I would certainly take that finding as fact.” https://t.co/CaqKGdNwT9 pic.twitter.com/XRjtjItemZ

— CNN International (@cnni) March 13, 2018

But that’s not the part of the president’s answer that Chris Cillizza and supervising producer Van Sterling thought was the relevant portion to focus on. To them, it’s the out of context “or whoever it may be” portion Trump’s answer which leaves the reader with the impression that Trump is downplaying any connection to Russia:

“Or whomever it may be.” https://t.co/odHk3o2GoE

— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) March 13, 2018

TRUMP ON UK POISONING:

“As soon as we get the facts straight — if we agree with them — we will condemn Russia, or whoever it may be.”

— Vaughn Sterling (@vplus) March 13, 2018

And to be fair, Trump’s “or whoever it may be” is actually pretty close to what Prime Minister May said in her speech to Parliament. Her exact quote leaves open a whole range of potential culprits who aren’t tied directly to the Russian state:

Mr Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury on the 4th of March. Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others. This afternoon my Rt Hon Friend the Foreign Secretary has summoned the Russian Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and asked him to explain which of these two possibilities it is – and therefore to account for how this Russian-produced nerve agent could have been deployed in Salisbury against Mr Skripal and his daughter.

Watch:

“Highly likely” Russia was responsible for poisoning Sergei & Yulia Skripal in Salisbury – UK PM Theresa May https://t.co/U4h0vZpow5 pic.twitter.com/QnT5r0V0SG

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 12, 2018

Because if it’s May’s second possibility — that the “Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent” — then Trump’s “or whoever it may be” is the exact right response you’d want from the president.

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Related:

Media, 2016: Tillerson is a Putin puppet!; Media, today: Trump fired Tillerson because he unloaded on Putin! https://t.co/a8qUCPyokX

— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) March 13, 2018

BREAKING: Rex Tillerson OUT as Sec. of State; Mike Pompeo IN https://t.co/IU7qp689dh

— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) March 13, 2018

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