Donald Trump’s suggestion that Britain invented Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has been branded “completely false” by the UK government.
The U.S. president shared a tweet by William Craddick, the founder of right-wing conspiracy theory news outlet Disobedience Media, The Independent reported.
“Russiagate was designed in part to help the UK counter Russian influence by baiting the United States into taking a hard line against them,” Craddick wrote. “Leaves us all with a more dangerous world as a consequence. Just another episode of the great game.”
It is not clear what “Russian influence” in Britain Craddick was referring to, but “great game” is likely a reference to a long-running political and diplomatic confrontation between Russia and Britain in the 19th century.
Donald Trump regularly retweets messages – as he did here – that he agrees with.
A Foreign Office spokesperson told The Independent: “This claim is completely false.”
Trump’s endorsement of the explosive claim Britain was involved in a conspiracy to create “Russiagate” – a term commonly understood to refer to Russia’s meddling in the presidential election – risks further undermining relations between the White House and the UK government.
Late last week, he launched an extraordinary attack against Theresa May over her Brexit negotiation strategy, claiming she “didn’t listen” to his advice over the issue.
Sir Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP and privy councillor, told The Independent that Trump’s peddling of the conspiracy theory was “foolish” and “ludicrous”.
“The trouble is he allows himself to be subject to these great flights of fancy, which unfortunately there are too many people who take seriously,” said Mr Soames, who is the grandson of Winston Churchill.
He added: “He pretty much takes up every conspiracy theory there is, it’s just ludicrous. I don’t think anyone who knows anything about it would take it seriously.”
Trump’s latest insinuation of Russian innocence over the presidential election will likely further exasperate the U.S. intelligence community, which has concluded the Kremlin interfered to help Trump and damage his rival Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.
The assessment led in part to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the election and potential links between the Trump campaign and Moscow – a wide-ranging probe the president has long castigated as a “witch hunt”.