President Trump gave an impromptu interview Thursday to the New York Times in which he talked about his hopes that the Russia investigation will end soon, and his concerns about China’s approach to the crisis in the Korean Peninsula.
“Oil is going into North Korea. That wasn’t my deal!” Trump told a reporter for the Times at his golf club in West Palm Beach, admitting he had been “soft” on China on trade. “If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I do what I’ve always said I want to do.”
“China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?” he said.
The Trump administration has pushed hard for tough measures in the face of increasing aggression from North Korea, getting three rounds of sanctions through the U.N. Security Council. But it has faced opposition by China, and Trump has frequently expressed frustration at China’s obstruction.
While Trump indicated he was still fond of Chinese President Xi Jinping as he “treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China,” the country needed to do more to help the international community deal with North Korea — which Trump described as a “nuclear menace.”
On the question of FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia’s investigation, Trump took a more optimistic tone and said he has so far stayed uninvolved because he is hoping he will be treated fairly. He also reasserted that there was no collusion from his team.
“There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats,” he said. “There was no collusion with respect to my campaign. I think I’ll be treated fairly. Timing wise, I can’t tell you. I just don’t know. But I think we’ll be treated fairly.”
However, Trump also said he hoped that Mueller’s probe would be worked out sooner rather than later, as it is bad for the U.S.
“It 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.”
Trump also dismissed the Russia allegations made by the Democrats as a “hoax,” a “ruse,” and an “excuse for losing an election.”
But as a possible warning to Mueller, Trump noted that he has an “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department” and also asserted that former Attorney General Eric Holder was more protective of President Obama than current AG Jeff Sessions is of President Trump.
“I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him,” Trump said. “When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest.”
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.