The president stepped away from a Camp David strategy session to bash the Russia investigation and address his mental health.
President Donald Trump took a break from a Camp David strategy session with top Republicans on Saturday to make some unscheduled comments to reporters.
Asked if he would comply if special counsel Robert Mueller requested to speak with him as part of the investigation into whether Russia interfered with the 2016 election, Trump repeated his assertion that “there’s been no collusion” and said that “there’s been no crime.”
“It’s making our country look foolish,” the president said about the investigation, “and it’s not going to look foolish as long as I’m here.”
Trump touched on a wide range of topics as he took questions at Camp David. Catch the highlights below.
On a report that Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself in the Russia investigation: “Everything I’ve done is 100 percent proper.”
Trump said a New York Times report detailing his attempts to exert influence over the early stages of the Russia probe was “way off.” According to the report, the president enlisted White House counsel Don McGahn to help prevent Sessions from recusing himself from the investigation. The attorney general eventually did so anyway, prompting the appointment of Mueller.
“Everything I’ve done is 100 percent proper,” Trump said Saturday. “That’s what I do, is I do things proper.”
On Fire and Fury, a new White House tell-all by Michael Wolff: “[Wolff] said he interviewed me for three hours in the White House. It didn’t exist, OK? It is in his imagination.”
Earlier on Saturday, Trump had hit back at critics casting doubt on whether he has the mental fitness to be president. The topic has come up this week in response to claims made Wolff’s book.
The president tweeted that his “two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” before boasting about his TV career and election victory. “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius…and a very stable genius at that!” he wrote.
When reporters asked why he decided to tweet about his mental state, Trump replied, “Only because I went to the best colleges, or college.” He then rehashed the accomplishments he had outlined on social media earlier in the day.
“I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out, made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top businesspeople, went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard, ran for president one time and won, and then I hear this guy that doesn’t know me at all — by the way, he said he interviewed me for three hours in the White House,” Trump said, referring to Wolff. “It didn’t exist, OK? It’s in his imagination.”
“I did a quick interview with him a long time ago, having to do with an article,” Trump clarified, “but I don’t know this man.”
Wolff states in an author’s note that he conducted interviews with the president, his senior staff members and their associates over a period of 18 months. However, he faces some questions over the book’s accuracy ― which the president said he was “heartened” to hear.
On whether he would speak directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: “Absolutely, I would do that. No problem with that at all.”
“I always believe in talking,” Trump said when asked whether he would take a call with the North Korean leader. He credited his “tough stance” on the isolated nation ― which has included trading public insults with Kim Jong Un ― with North and South Korea’s agreement to open a line of communication ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
“Look, right now they’re talking Olympics,” Trump said. “It’s a start. It’s a big start. If I weren’t involved, they wouldn’t be talking about Olympics right now. They’d be doing no talking, or it’d be much more serious. He knows I’m not messing around. I’m not messing around. Not even a little bit, not even 1 percent. He understands that. At the same time, if we can come up with a very peaceful and very good solution ― we’re working it with [Secretary of State] Rex [Tillerson], we’re working on it with a lot of people. If something can come out of those talks, that would be a great thing for all of humanity.”
On Dreamers: “The wall’s going to happen or we’re not going to have DACA.”
Late Friday, Trump sent senators a long list of demands on immigration that could prevent Democrats from negotiating a deal to help so-called Dreamers, or young undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children. Dreamers were protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program until Trump rescinded it.
“We all want DACA to happen, but we also want great security for our country. So important. We want to stop the drugs from flowing in. Very important,” the president said Saturday.
A border wall is chief among his demands, which also include restrictions on visa sponsorship, additional border security and policies that would make it easier to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.
“We want to get rid of chain migration ― very important ― and we want to get rid of the lottery system,” Trump said, blaming the lottery system for a November terrorist attack in New York City that killed eight. The suspect in the attack, an Uzbek immigrant, had come to the U.S. through a State Department program known as the Diversity Visa Lottery.
“They give you people, in fact, as you know, the person on the West Side Highway that killed eight people, and so badly injured ― legs and arms ― so badly injured many more, they came in through the lottery system,” Trump said.