President Donald Trump is once again seeming to reject the intelligence community's collective conclusion that Russia tried to interfere in last year's election, saying in a tweet early Tuesday morning that such claims are simply "a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election."
"Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News," Trump wrote in a tweet from his personal account, @realDonaldTrump.
The tweet comes as the media continues to report on contacts between Russia and Trump associates, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, one of Trump's most trusted advisers. The Washington Post reported Friday that Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring.
This controversy has overshadowed Trump's presidency so far, and White House officials are trying to shift the focus back to policy while likely shaking up staff responsibilities.
Earlier in the morning, Trump also tweeted about the U.S. trade deficit with Germany, writing: "We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change."
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel provided a stark review of Trump's visit to Europe and his tense meetings with leaders there, saying that Europe "really must take our fate into our own hands" and that the days of being able to rely on others is "over to a certain extent."