Donald Trump is allegedly so sensitive about the possibility that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election actually helped him win that, according to The New Yorker, he refuses to even discuss it — in private or in public. And while many critics say that Fox News has proven to be Trump’s favorite cable news channel, and that the network has been largely unwavering in its support of Trump, one Fox News host had words that may cast that assertion into doubt.
On Wednesday, as Media Matters documented, Melissa Francis — a co-host of the noontime Fox News panel discussion show Outnumbered — simply blurted out that Russia was a decisive factor in the 2016 election.
The concept behind Fox News‘ Outnumbered is to feature “an ensemble of four female panelists and #OneLuckyGuy,” in a roundtable political discussion. On Wednesday, the discussion turned to special counsel Robert Mueller and his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In the discussion, co-host Lisa Boothe was dismissive of Democrat concerns over the Russian interference that was claimed by Mueller in his report, saying, “I’m so tired of the Democrat talking point that this is about Russia and getting to the bottom of that because Democrats don’t care about Russia… This is about harming and tarring President Trump.”
But Francis pushed back, at least a little, on Boothe’s contention that Democrats in Congress “don’t care” about Russia.
“One place that I would challenge, Lisa, though, is that I think they care about Russia now,” Francis said. “They care about Russia now because it cost them an election.”
Watch the exchange in the video below, posted to Twitter by Lis Power of Media Matters.
Fox host accidentally admits that Russian interference cost Democrats the election. (I really hope Trump was watching.)— Lis Power (@LisPower1) April 24, 2019
FRANCIS: Democrats "care about Russia now because it cost them an election." pic.twitter.com/lfm6nVBdf1
In the Mueller report, made available online by The New York Times, Mueller wrote that Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election was “sweeping and systematic,” and that while Russia began its election sabotage operation as early as 2014 — with the objective of “undermin(ing) the U.S. electoral system” — by 2016 the campaign had progressed to one that “favored candidate Trump and disparaged candidate (Hillary) Clinton.”
In her book, Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President –What We Don’t, Can’t, and Do Know, University of Pennsylvania professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson presents “forensic evidence” that the Russian interference “had a decisive impact in 2016,” and was responsible for Trump’s victory, according to an analysis conducted by The New Yorker.
But according to The Hill, when former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen proposed convening a meeting on how to stop Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election, she was allegedly warned not to bring the topic to Trump, and to keep it “below his level.”