President Donald Trump has strongly denied having investments or owning property in Russia, telling NBC News' Lester Holt that he's in "total compliance in every way."
"I just sent a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham from one of the prestigious law firms in the country, a tremendous, highly rated law firm," the president told Holt in a segment from an interview recorded Thursday and airing Friday morning on NBC's "Today" show.
"I have nothing to do with Russia. I have no investments in Russia, none whatsoever. I don't have property in Russia."
The letter was certified, said Trump, and he assumes Graham is "going to give the letter out, but it says I am not involved in Russia. No loans no nothing."
Trump continued that there were many people who thought he owned office buildings in Moscow, but "I don't have property in Russia. I'm in total compliance in every way."
The president has not yet released his income tax statements, but he pointed out that he filed "documents, hundreds of pages worth of documents, with the federal elections bureau [Federal Election Commission]. Everybody's seen them."
Trump continued that he has "built a great company, but I'm not involved with Russia," but he also said he's "had dealings over the years" and "sold a house to a very wealthy Russian many years ago."
Trump said he owned the Miss Universe Pageant for "quite a while" and it was in Moscow "a long time ago, but other than that, I had nothing to do with Russia."
However, earlier this year, USA Today reported that in 2013, Trump told Real Estate Weekly that he has had "a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room" when he met with potential investors in Moscow.
Further, in 2008, son Donald Trump Jr. told the Russian media that Russians "make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets," including in Dubai and Trump SoHo, as well as other New York locations, the publication reported.
Also during the interview, Trump said he did not worry about how it would look to fire FBI Director James Comey one day before he was to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the White House.
"I never thought about it," said Trump. "It was set up uh a while ago and frankly, I could have waited but what difference does it make? I'm not looking for cosmetics. I'm looking to do a great job for the country. I'm looking to create jobs. I'm looking to create strength and security. I'm looking to have strong borders. I'm looking for things like that."
Trump said he also believes it is a good thing that he meets with people.
"This was announced that I'm meeting with Lavrov," said Trump. " Just like a number of days ago, I spoke, I had a very good conversation, very public in the sense that everybody knew this was taking place. I meet I, I talk all the time, just spoke with the head of the new head of South Korea who just got elected. I speak with the head of India, I speak with the head of China. I have to speak with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin also."
Trump said when he spoke with Putin, he was asked if he would see Lavrov.
"Now what do I, should I say no I'm not going to see him?" said Trump. "I said I will see him. During that discussion with Lavrov, I think we had a great discussion having to do with Syria, having to do with the Ukraine, and maybe that discussion will lead to a lot less people getting killed and will lead ultimately to peace.
"So I'm very — I'm OK with those discussions, Lester. I think it's a good thing, not a bad thing."
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