From his Scottish golf resort, Trump tweets about Russia before Putin meeting

Trump questioned why Barack Obama had not acted on claims of Russian meddling if the FBI had informed the then president ahead of the 2016 election.
VIDEO: REUTERS

TURNBERRY, Scotland (WASHINGTON POST) - President Donald Trump, at his luxury seaside golf course here, turned his eye to domestic politics on Saturday (July 14) - attacking former President Barack Obama, questioning the FBI, torching CNN and bragging about his 2016 win.

With country roads to the golf course cordoned off, and aides mum about the President's activities on a sunny Saturday morning, he gave a lens into his mind around 11am local time. He also said on Twitter that he planned to golf.

"The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration," the President tweeted about Friday's federal indictments against 12 Russian intelligence agents charged with hacking into the Democratic National Committee servers and stealing e-mails.

Trump did not criticise the actions of the Russian spies nor President Vladimir Putin, who he will see on Monday in Helsinki, for a meeting and news conference that many of Trump's advisers have warned against.

He instead focused his criticism on Obama, as he did on Friday when asked about the Russia's seizure of Crimea.

The President has resisted calls from some Democrats and Republicans to call off the Putin meeting after the indictments were handed down in Washington. Nor has the President outlined a comprehensive plan for what his administration will do to keep such meddling from happening again.

Trump was told before he left for Europe that the Department of Justice planned to indict 12 Russian actors for the hack, but he still sounded positive notes about Putin and attacked the special counsel investigation during Friday's news conference.

He also offered an unsubstantiated theory he often repeats, questioning whether the hidden hand of the government was biased toward Democrats in 2016 and whether there was covert material on a Democratic server hacked by the Russians.

"Where is the DNC Server, and why didn't the FBI take possession of it? Deep State?" he asked on Twitter, using a term that conservatives use for a cabal of non-elected bureaucrats and officials working to undermine the elected representatives.

The President then tweeted that he turned on CNN on his television set at the Trump Turnberry resort, saying he was allowing himself a rare viewing to see if "to see if they covered my takedown yesterday of Jim Acosta (actually a nice guy)."

The President squabbled with Acosta, a White House reporter for the network, at a Friday news conference at the British prime minister's country estate.

He did not answer when Acosta shouted questions during the news conference and instead called Acosta "fake news" before turning to a reporter from Fox News.

"Remember, it was Little Jeff Z and his people, who are told exactly what to say, who said I could not win the election in that "there was no way to 270" (over & over again) in the electoral college. I got 306! They were sooooo wrong in their election coverage. Still hurting!" Trump wrote.

"Little Jeff Z" appeared to refer to Jeff Zucker, the CNN president. Trump often likes to remind people that he was elected president over Hillary Clinton.

The President has spent the last four days haranguing allies to spend more on defence at Nato and alternately criticising and praising British Prime Minister Theresa May.

But domestic politics have never been far from Trump's mind in Europe. He has frequently criticised Obama - an unusual move for US presidents on foreign soil - and continued apace with his attacks on the news media.

 
 
 

He has tweeted about Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI agents who were having an affair and whose text messages have given fodder to critics of the Mueller probe. Both testified last week in front of Congress.

The trip to his golf course seemed part relaxation and part plug for a property struggling to turn a profit. During his news conferences, Trump has mentioned the resort by name several times, calling it "incredible."

Trump hit the links on Saturday, playing the course using a golf cart, which he drove. Most players at Turnberry, unless they have a note from their doctor, are required to walk the course, though they can hire caddies to wheel their bags of clubs.

He was also expected to see the burial grounds of his ancestors in Scotland, aides said.

It was an odd scene, with Scottish police serving sentry in the dunes and along the fairways of the seaside course, keeping protesters and photographers at a distance. Occasionally, one could hear the thwack of a ball being hit from the tees.

At the perimeter to the golf links were small clusters of demonstrators. Retired schoolteacher Helen Broussard, 70, was holding up an anti-Trump placard that read, "Yer jaiket's oana shoogly pet, Donnie" - "Your jacket is on a wobbly peg" - meaning roughly that the President is on his way out.

"I came out to say that Donald Trump is not welcome in Scotland," said Broussard, adding she was disgusted by Trump's orders to separate children from their parents when caught illegally crossing the US-Mexico border - a policy now on hold.

On a quiet country road nearby, a gaggle of protesters stood beside a large dog crate filled with dolls, charging that Trump put babies in cages.

"We're not anti-American. We're anti-Trump," said Alistair Wilson, 67, a retired video producer.

As Trump tweeted and swung his clubs in Turnberry, demonstrators were also making their voices heard in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital. Thousands of protesters, some in kilts, met at the Scottish Parliament and marched through the streets chanting "Dump Trump." Some held aloft signs that said, "Even Hufflepuffs Dislike Trump," a reference to a school group in the "Harry Potter" book series.

The "Trump baby" blimp depicting the President as a diaper-clad infant - unveiled on Friday amid widespread protests against the president in London - also made an appearance.

When Trump arrived via motorcade on Friday evening, locals came out of their homes to wave and take photographs. Reporters on the trip said they saw no signs of protest then.

In the hazy distance on Saturday was Trump Turnberry, a 112-year-old Victoria-era grand hotel situated on a hill with sweeping views of sea and Trump's world-class Ailsa golf course.

It's the scene of a golf legend, the Duel in the Sun, the epic match won by Tom Watson by one stroke against runner-up Jack Nicklaus at the 1977 Open Championship.

Chris O'Donnell, a manager at the Athletic Tavern pub in nearby Girvan, said it was hard to judge the overall mood in the area. Trump provides jobs at his resort; the golf course is stunning; the once-shabby Turnberry hotel has been renovated to highest standards.

Still, Scots generally don't like the man or his politics.

"A lot of people are anti-Trump in some ways, and others are pro-Trump in some ways, it's quite hard to judge it," he said.

"The people who are anti-Trump make lots of noise."