Trump’s Deflections and Denials on Russia Frustrate Even His Allies

He followed that up with: “Obama Administration official said they ‘choked’ when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?”

Government officials, members of Congress from both parties and even some Trump supporters had hoped that, with the campaign behind him, Mr. Trump would finally speak declaratively about the email hacking and recognize the threat Russian cyberattacks present, without asterisks, wisecracks, caveats or obfuscation.

That hope has dissipated. The latest presidential tweets were proof to dismayed members of Mr. Trump’s party that he still refuses to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.

“I think he would be rewarded politically for being tough on Russia,” said Mike DuHaime, a Republican strategist and an adviser to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. Mr. DuHaime suggested that it was time for Mr. Trump to help himself with a public declaration definitively laying the blame on Russia.

“Most people grew up hearing the Russians are not our allies,” Mr. DuHaime said. “He should be tough on them for what they attempted to do.”

It is not easy to explain why the president won’t concede the Russia question, but aides and friends say the matter hits him where he is most vulnerable. Mr. Trump, who often conflates himself with the institutions he serves, sees questions about Russia as an effort by Democrats and stragglers from the “Never Trump” movement to delegitimize his election victory.

There is another reason, too. Mr. Trump is a wealthy businessman from New York, but he is not a Wall Street titan or a master investor. He is a real estate mogul whose life view is predicated on making deals and who treats almost everything as an open-ended discussion. When it comes to where he stands on Russia and the 2016 election,…

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