Before his inauguration, the CIA briefed President Donald Trump that they had proof Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election -- yet Trump never ordered an investigation into the interference.
On Jan. 6, the CIA told Trump they had "extraordinary evidence" proving Russian President Vladimir Putin gave "specific instructions" as to how Russia would hack the United States 2016 presidential election, an investigative report by The Washington Post reveals.
The president's response surprised Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former FBI Director James Comey, both of whom delivered the brief.
"We were prepared to be thrown out," Clapper admitted.
Instead, Trump "was affable, courteous, complimentary," Clapper added.
Afterward, however, Trump responded quite differently. These days, when Russia is brought up, Trump reportedly flies into a rage.
"If you say ‘Russian interference,’ to him it’s all about him," said a senior Republican strategist who has discussed the matter with Trump’s confidants. "He judges everything as about him."
To some, that may be why, instead of pursuing the interference further, the president has since repeatedly claimed U.S. intelligence findings on Russia are wrong.
Trump has even claimed the "whole thing was set up by the Democrats" while blasting Comey and Clapper, CNN reports.
"I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks," Trump said of the men in November. "So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker."
Trump continued, staunchly defending Putin, CNN reports.
"He said he didn't meddle," said Trump. "He said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. ... Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that.' ... And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it."
"I think he is very insulted by it," added Trump.
News of the brief provoked outrage among many internet users.
"This is what people meant when they said he was unqualified to be president," wrote one person in The Washington Post's comments section. "If he cannot separate what is good for the country from what is good for him, that is deeply problematic."
Yet to others, Trump's response to the brief reflected his untrustworthiness rather than incompetence.
"I just don't understand why Trump doesn't just speak to these Russia-related issues directly," wondered another.
"I continue to take just about everything he says and does as part of his disinformation campaign," they added. "He does nothing to develop the trust that he has the nation's best interests at the center of his concerns. Perhaps he never has…"