But Trump suddenly going dark following that presser has gotten a lot more interesting with the release of Robert Mueller’s 12 new indictments of Russian military officers for hacking the 2016 elections. Now we also know that Trump’s July 27 “Russia, are you listening?” call to action came on the very same day (or damn close) to Russia’s first attempt to penetrate 76 email addresses from the Clinton campaign domain.
Not only does that sound a tad too suspicious to be merely coincidental—just think about the fact that Donald Trump never gave another press conference for the rest of the year.
He was running for president for god’s sake and he was the underdog candidate—giving press conferences is the name of the game. In fact, up until Trump went dark after his suspicious July 27 presser, he had given fully 17 press conferences that year. That summer, Trump had also grown fond of skewering Hillary for not giving a press conference in 250-plus days. (While Hillary was taking blows for that lack of press access, it’s also not totally uncommon for a front-runner to limit access. Every interview is just another chance to make a mistake.)
But by contrast, Trump had gladly given several press conferences a month for the first half of 2016.
Now let’s think about who was running Trump’s campaign when he openly solicited Russia’s help in winning the election and then his campaign muzzled him for the rest of the year: Paul Manafort.
Manafort—who is now in jail awaiting criminal trial because a judge determined he was witness tampering—was both Trump’s campaign chair and de facto campaign manager in July of 2016.
Manafort and other Trump surrogates were also facing increasing questions about Trump’s links to Russia around the time of Trump’s final press conference for the year.
“Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked on “This Week” July 24.
“No, there are not,” Manafort said with a chuckle. “It’s absurd and there’s no basis to it.”