On Thursday, President Donald Trump again denied the allegations that there was any collusion between Russia and himself, or his presidential campaign during the 2016 election. Trump was speaking to reporters at a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who recently ended his country’s war with FARC and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt,” Trump said of the Wednesday appointment of former FBI head Robert S. Mueller as special counsel for the ongoing Russia investigation. “There is no collusion between, certainly myself, and my campaign — but I can always speak for myself — and the Russians. Zero.”
Trump was responding to the first question he received after the two leaders finished their initial remarks: “Mr. President, I’d like to get your reaction to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Russian interference in the campaign. Was this the right move, or is this part of a witch hunt?”
He went on to list a number of accomplishments for which he has taken credit since the start of his administration and said he would prefer to focus on those achievements, and on moving forward. He said of the Russia investigation as a whole, “I think it divides the country.”
He also called attention to his upcoming foreign trip, during which he will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican. Trump and his administration are hoping that the media will focus on the trip as opposed to the events of the past few weeks, during which the president fired FBI director James Comey and reportedly divulged highly classified security information to Russia in an Oval Office meeting.
Read the full text of Trump’s answer, which occurs at the 12:30 mark, below:
“I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt. There is no collusion between, certainly myself, and my campaign — but I can always speak for myself — and the Russians. Zero. I think it divides the country. I think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things. So I can tell you that we want to bring this great country of ours together, John. And I will also say, very strongly, we’ve had tremendous success. You look at our job numbers, you look at what’s going on at the border, as we discussed before, you look at what will be happening — you’re going to see incredible numbers with respect to the success of General Mattis and others with the ISIS situation. The numbers are staggering, how successful they’ve been, the military has been. Tomorrow, as you know, I’m going to Saudi Arabia, I’m going to Israel, I’m going to Rome. We have the G7. We have a lot of great things going on. So I hate to see anything that divides. I’m fine with whatever people want to do, but we have to get back to running this country really, really well. We’ve made tremendous progress in the last hundred and some odd days, tremendous progress. You see job numbers, you see all of the production that’s starting — plants starting to open again haven’t been open in years. I’m very proud of it. That’s what I want to be focused on. Because believe me, there’s no collusion. Russia is fine. But whether it’s Russia or anybody else, my total priority, believe me, is the United States of America.”