The president could have made the point that former U.S. Ambassador Jack Matlock made last week that the intelligence community had in fact only tentatively concluded that there was official Russian meddling of a very insignificant and ineffectual kind in the 2016 election. He could have dwelt on the fact that all that has really been unearthed is about $10 million of rather vague advertisements on Facebook decrying the general condition of the country, compared to an unprecedented $250 million of Clinton attack ads against Trump in that campaign.

And he could certainly have remarked that since Brennan and Clapper both had accused Trump of colluding with the Russians, and he had done nothing of the kind (as Putin affirmed), and since there was not a shred of evidence to corroborate that allegation or Clapper’s claim that the Russians had tipped the election to Trump, and as both Clapper and Brennan, as well as Comey, had lied to Congress under oath in related matters, he, President Trump, put more faith in Putin’s account of the absence of collusion than in the defamatory allegations of the former leaders of the American intelligence community. He might even have added that the United States had interfered countless times in the internal electoral processes, even primitive ones, of dozens of countries (including Russia) over many decades, and cautioned against excessive righteousness.

Trump did none of these things. Instead, he raised the ante.