President Donald Trump on Thursday said Michael Flynn did nothing wrong by talking to Russia, saying that the former national security adviser was doing his job.
"I fired him because of what he said to [Vice President] Mike Pence," Trump told the assembled media.
Further, while Trump said he didn't instruct Flynn to talk to Russia, he would have instructed him to if he hadn't.
"When I looked at the information I said I don't think he did anything wrong. If anything, he did something right," Trump said during his press conference that lasted more than an hour.
"He didn't just call Russia, he called and spoke to — I think there were 30-some-odd countries. You know, he was just doing his job," Trump said.
Trump was asked if he directed Flynn to talk to the Russian ambassador.
"I didn't direct him but I would have directed him because that's his job," Trump said. "I didn't direct him but I would have directed him if he didn't do it."
What got Flynn fired, Trump said, was how he conveyed the timing and nature of those calls with Pence.
"There was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence … and I was not happy with the way that information was given." Trump said. "[Flynn] didn't have to do that because what he did wasn't wrong.
"The thing is, he didn't tell our vice president properly, and then he said he didn't remember. So either way, it wasn't very satisfactory to me," Trump said.
What was wrong, Trump said, was the media's role in the affair.
"What was wrong was the way that other people including yourself inside this room were given that information because that was classified information that was given illegally," Trump said. "That's the real problem.
"You can talk all you want about Russia, which is all a fake news fabricated deal to try to make up for the loss of the Democrats. And the press plays right into it. It's all fake news. All fake news," Trump said.
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