Rejecting all claims that he somehow colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, President Donald Trump said the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller makes the country “look very bad” and hoped it would end soon.
According to the New York Times’ Michael Schmidt, who sat down with Trump for a half-hour impromptu interview at the president’s golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, Trump said 16 times that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia during last year’s election.
Democrats invented the Russia allegations “as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election,” Trump said, adding that “everybody knows” his associates did not collude with the Russians.
The Mueller investigation “makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position,” Trump said. “So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”
Even though he does not know when the investigation will be completed, Trump said he is not bothered because he has nothing to hide, the Times reported.
“There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair,” Trump said about Mueller.
The former FBI director was appointed in May by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself of all investigations into the Trump campaign due to potential conflicts of interest. Trump has denied all reports that he intends to fire the special counsel, used by his critics to raise the alarm.
“I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department,” Trump said. “But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.”
“Let’s just say — I think that Bob Mueller will be fair, and everybody knows that there was no collusion,” Trump said. “I hope that he’s going to be fair. I think that he’s going to be fair.”
The FBI and the DOJ have come under increased scrutiny by Republican lawmakers, after it was revealed that several staff members seconded to Mueller’s investigation have engaged in improper behavior. House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-California) has demanded to speak with counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages during the campaign, as well as former Associate Deputy AG Bruce Ohr, over his involvement with opposition research firm Fusion GPS and the infamous “Steele dossier” on Trump that was largely funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.