Tags: Donald Trump | Russia Probe | Trump Administration | investigation | fbi | special counsel | collusion

Trump: Russia Probe 'Makes the Country Look Very Bad'

Trump: Russia Probe 'Makes the Country Look Very Bad'
Russia's Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump (Evan Vucci/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 28 December 2017 09:18 PM

President Donald Trump said Thursday he believed Russia special counsel Robert Mueller will treat him fairly — contrary to what other Republicans legislators have recently contended — and said the probe "makes the country look very bad."

"It puts the country in a very bad position," Trump told Michael Schmidt of The New York Times in a 30-minute impromptu interview at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. "So, the sooner it's worked out, the better it is for the country."

When asked whether he would order the Justice Department to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, Trump apparently remained focused on the Moscow inquiry.

He insisted 16 times during the interview that Mueller's probe found "no collusion" between his campaign and the Kremlin.

"There's been no collusion," Trump said at one point. "But I think he's going to be fair.

"I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department," the president responded regarding any Clinton inquiry.

"But for purposes of hopefully thinking I'm going to be treated fairly, I've stayed uninvolved with this particular matter."

Trump also, for the first time, said he had "been soft" on China on trade — an admission coming hours after he accused Beijing of secretly providing oil to North Korea.

He said he took the stance toward China in hopes it would pressure Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program.

But Trump signaled his patience might soon end.

"Oil is going into North Korea," he told the Times. "That wasn't my deal!

"If they don't help us with North Korea, then I do what I've always said I want to do."

During the campaign, Trump hinted he would seek strong trade sanctions against Beijing for devaluing their currency against the U.S. dollar and other infractions.

"They have to help us much more," Trump said. "We have a nuclear menace out there, which is no good for China."

Schmidt interviewed Trump in the Grill Room at his golf club after eating lunch with his golf partners.

During the interview, several friends and supporters — including Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy — came by to talk with the president.

Further regarding Russia, Trump told the Times he was not troubled at not knowing when it will end because he has nothing to hide.

He slammed the investigation "as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election" created by Democrats.

"Everybody knows," he insisted, that his associates did not collude with Moscow — adding the "real stories" were about Democrats working with Moscow during the campaign.

Other Republicans in recent weeks have attacked the Mueller probe as biased after anti-Trump texts were discovered from an FBI investigator who was removed from his team.

Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican, insisted at a congressional hearing this month "the public trust in this whole thing is gone."

Trump said, however, it was "too bad" Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.

He also did not directly answer a question about whether Eric Holder, President Barack Obama's first attorney general, was more loyal than Sessions had been.

"I don't want to get into loyalty," he told the Times, "but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama.

"Totally protected him.

"When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president," he added. "And I have great respect for that, I'll be honest."

President Trump also spoke about the Alabama special Senate election earlier this month, where Republican candidate Roy Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones amid accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.

Trump said he backed Moore's opponent, Luther Strange, in the Republican primary race in September because he knew Moore would lose in the general election.

He added he endorsed Moore later solely because "I feel that I have to endorse Republicans as the head of the party."

In addition, Trump touted his legislative victories this year, including the $1.5 trillion tax cut plan, and ripped Democrats for not working with him on the bill.

"Like Joe Manchin," the president said, referring to the second-term West Virginia senator.

Trump told the Times that Manchin and other Democrats claimed to be centrists, but they refused to negotiate on healthcare reform or taxes.

"He talks, but he doesn't do anything," the president said. "He doesn't do: 'Hey, let's get together; let's do bipartisan.' I say, 'Good, let's go.'

"Then, you don't hear from him again."

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President Donald Trump told The New York Times on Thursday the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election "makes the country look very bad."
investigation, fbi, special counsel, collusion, robert mueller
Thursday, 28 December 2017 09:18 PM
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