Thursday at a press conference to announce his pick of Alexander Acosta for the vacant Secretary of Labor post, President Donald Trump called the media fixation on he and his campaign’s dealings with Russia “ruse,” adding he had “nothing to do with Russia.”
Partial transcript as follows:
REPORTER: Thank you. Yes or no answer on one of these questions involving Russia. Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?
TRUMP: Well, I told you, General Flynn, obviously, was dealing, so that’s one person, but he was dealing, as he should have been.
REPORTER: During the election?
TRUMP: No, nobody that I know of.
REPORTER: You’re not aware of any contacts during the course of the election?
TRUMP: How many times do I have to answer this question?
REPORTER: Can you just say yes or no.
TRUMP: I know you have to get up and ask a question. Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia. Not that I wouldn’t, I just have nobody to speak to. I spoke to Putin twice. He called me on the election. I told you this. And he called me on the inauguration a few days ago. We had a very good talk. Especially the second one, lasted for a pretty long period of time. I’m sure you probably get it because it was classified so I’m sure everybody in this room, perhaps, has it. But we had a very, very good talk. I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does. Now, Manafort has totally denied it. He denied it. Now, people knew he was a consultant over in that part of the world for a while, but not for Russia. He represented people having to do with Ukraine or whatever. But people knew that.
REPORTER: In his capacity as your campaign manager, was he in touch with Russian officials during the election?
TRUMP: You know what, he said no. I can only tell you what he said. The election. Now, he was replaced long before you know that, right? He was replaced long before the election. When all of this stuff started coming out. But Paul Manafort, who’s a good man, also, by the way, Paul Manafort was replaced long before the election took place. He was only there for a short period of time. How much longer should we stay here, folks? Five more minutes, is that okay? Five?
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