President Trump emerged from the residence at 8:10 am on a warm sunny morning, heading to the Air Force Academy commencement in Colorado Springs. After admitting on Twitter that Russia helped him get elected, he talked to reporters briefly and attacked Mueller before boarding Marine One.
This morning, in a series of tweets, President Trump directly admitted that Russia helped him get elected to the presidency, though maintained that he was not involved and that the special counsel’s investigation was illegitimate:
“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax…And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. (Bold added for emphasis.)
It was a crime that didn’t exist. So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media,…say he fought back against this phony crime that didn’t exist, this horrendous false accusation, and he shouldn’t fight back, he should just sit back and take it. Could this be Obstruction? No, Mueller didn’t find Obstruction either. Presidential Harassment!”
However, less than one hour after the Twitter rant, before leaving the White House for Colorado, Mr.Trump told reporters: “No, Russia did not help me get elected. I got me elected,” contradicting his earlier tweets.
Mr. Trump asserted that, while Russia preferred Hillary Clinton and tried to help her get elected, it also had an “insurance policy.” Apparently referring to mistrust sown about his own victory, Mr. Trump said: “Guess what, what we’re in right now is the insurance policy.”
The president also stated that he believed Russia would have preferred Ms. Clinton was elected, stating “No one has been tougher on Russia than me…whether it’s our energy policy or the pipeline…whether it’s Ukraine…there is nobody ever who has been more tough or difficult for Russia than Donald Trump. I put sanctions on Russia at a level nobody ever has seen.”
The press gaggle quickly became an opportunity for Mr. Trump to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who, for the first time yesterday, spoke publicly about the Russia inquiry.
Mueller refused to declare Mr. Trump innocent, saying: “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” He also stated: “The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” indicating that impeachment would be a legitimate avenue for Congress.
Suggesting that reporters go read Article II of the Constitution, Mr. Trump maintained at the gaggle that he possesses “presidential powers that you wouldn’t believe” that shield him from obstruction charges. Though, “I don’t even have to rely on Article II. There was no crime. There was no obstruction. There was no collusion, there was no nothing,” he continued.
Handshake with Kevin Corke of Fox News
After Fox News reporter Kevin Corke asked a question about China and tariffs, Mr. Trump leaned in to shake Corke’s hand and praised him for asking a “real reporter question,” insinuating that questions on the Russian investigation are illegitimate.
In the 17 minute whirlwind briefing, Mr.Trump also said that he would be making a statement on the Louisiana abortion law later today and that he would be releasing a “big league” and “very dramatic” statement either today or tomorrow on the U.S. – Mexico border, adding that our “asylum procedures are ridiculous” and that this would be his biggest announcement on the border to date.
Support for Brexit Leaders in U.K.
Lost in Mr. Trump’s aggressive remarks, he also answered a question on U.K. politics, saying: “Nigel Farage is a friend of mine, Boris [Johnson] is a friend of mine…I think they’re big powers over there, I think they’ve done a good job…I haven’t thought about supporting them, maybe it’s not my business to support them.” Farage is the leader of Britain’s Brexit Party and Johnson is a member of the Conservative Party; both are considered to be contenders for the prime minister position.
Before boarding Marine One to deliver the commencement speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s graduation, he addressed a reported White House request that the USS McCain be moved out of his sight during his visit to Japan. “John McCain killed health care for the nation…I wasn’t a fan and I’ll never be…but I couldn’t care less if there’s a boat named after him,” he said, also stating that, “I didn’t know a thing about it. I would have never done that.”