By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
President Donald Trump is making his first public remarks on the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump commented on Thursday, May 18, 2017, during his joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. The President called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt” and that the appointment of a special counsel “divides the country.” Trump also emphatically stressed that there was “no collusion” with the Russians on his part and of his campaign.
Trump repeatedly responded that there was “no collusion” during the campaign between himself and the Russians. The president responded to ABC News’ Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl’s question, saying, “There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but I can always speak for myself, and the Russians, zero.”
Continuing, President Trump said, “Believe me — there’s no collusion. Russia is fine, but whether it is Russia or anybody else, my total priority, believe me, is the United States of America.” The president hammered on the issue later in his press conference reassuring the media and the public that he did not have the Russians interfere in the election on his behalf. Trump reiterated, “There was no collusion, and everybody — even my enemies have said, there is no collusion. So we want to get back and keep on the track that we’re on.”
President Trump also explained his reason for firing James Comey as FBI Director. The president thought he would have “bipartisan” support for his decision. Trump recounted Comey “was very unpopular with most people.” The president rationalized, “But when I made that decision, I actually thought it would be a bipartisan decision. Because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such terrible things about Director Comey.”
The president also used the excuse about Comey’s actions to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over the investigation into the private email server she used as Secretary of State. Trump said, “We need a great director of the FBI. I cherish the FBI. It is special. All over the world, no matter where you go, the FBI is special. The FBI has not had that special reputation with what happened in the campaign, what happened with respect to the Clinton campaign, and even you could say directly or indirectly with respect to the much more successful Trump campaign.”
President Trump was also asked about his thoughts on the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a Special Counsel to investigate any connection between the Trump campaign and Russia. Commenting on the Russia election interference investigation Trump remarked, “I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt.” He believes the special counsel, “divides the country.” In contrast, President Trump said, “We want to bring this great country of ours together. We have to get back to running this country really, really well.”
Thursday morning, President Trump tweeted there was “never a special (counsel) appointed” to investigate “all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign and Obama administration.” He added, “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”