Trump says Russia did not help him win, contradicting tweet

President Trump in a tweet early Thursday acknowledged for the first time that Russia aided his campaign during the 2016 election, then walked back the suggestion in comments outside the White House moments later.

“No, Russia did not help me get elected,” Trump told reporters as he left to deliver the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement address in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Twenty minutes earlier, Trump tweeted, “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”

{mosads}The tweet came amid a flurry of posts one day after special counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly for the first time about the Russia investigation, comments that appeared to further anger the president, who has long denounced the two-year investigation as a “hoax.”

Even if Trump’s remark was inadvertent, it was a stunning admission because he has previously refused to agree with the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Moscow’s interference effort was designed to help him win. In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, Trump said he declined to confront him on election interference and that they both dismissed the “Russian Hoax.”

Mueller in his comments on Wednesday stressed that his investigation uncovered “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” something he said “deserves the attention of every American.”

But Trump was focused on bashing Mueller and claiming vindication, telling reporters on Thursday that the special counsel was “conflicted” and should “should have never been chosen” for the job while attacking the probe as “a giant presidential harassment.”

Taking aim at congressional Democrats weighing impeachment, the president said he does not see how they could make that move, calling it “a dirty, filthy, disgusting word.”

The president also claimed he has “presidential powers that you wouldn’t believe” that would shield him from any obstruction of justice charge, “but 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.”

Updated at 10:47 a.m.

Tags Donald Trump Mueller investigation Mueller report Robert Mueller Vladimir Putin
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