- President Donald Trump railed against former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Michael Wolff, the author of an explosive new book about the inner workings of the White House.
- Trump said Wolff did not know him at all, and that “Sloppy Steve” gave him access to the White House.
- He also reiterated his past claim that there was “no collusion” with Russia and added that everything he did was “100% proper.”
- Trump then accused former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of colluding with the Russians.
President Donald Trump unloaded on the Russia investigation and Michael Wolff, the author of an explosive new tell-all book during a press conference with reporters at Camp David on Saturday.
In the book, former White House chief strategist and head of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, is quoted eviscerating Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., his daughter Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
During the press conference, Trump called the book a “work of fiction” and said it was a “disgrace” that Wolff could “do something like this.”
“Libel laws are very weak in this country,” Trump said. “If they were stronger, hopefully, you would not have something like that happen.”
He added that Wolff did not know him at all and did not interview him, though he then said Wolff interviewed him once “a long time ago” for a magazine story.
“I guess ‘Sloppy Steve’ [Bannon] brought him into the White House a lot,” Trump said. “That’s why ‘Sloppy Steve’ is looking for a job.”
In a noteworthy exchange Friday during an interview with “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie, Wolff said every single person around Trump, including senior aides and family members, questioned his intelligence and fitness for office.
Trump defended his intelligence in a series of Saturday morning tweets, saying his “two greatest assets” were his “mental stability and being, like, really smart.”
He added that he believed he was a “very stable genius.”
Asked during the press conference why he tweeted about his mental stability, Trump replied, “Only because I went to the best colleges, or college. I went to a – I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars.”
He continued, saying that he then pursued a television career and was a “tremendous success, as you probably have heard. Ran for president one time and won.”
‘No collusion’ and ‘no crime’
Reporters also touched on a recent New York Times report that said Trump asked White House counsel Don McGahn to convince Attorney General not to recuse himself from the FBI’s Russia investigation last year. Sessions recused himself last March when it emerged that he had failed to disclose his contacts with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his Senate confirmation hearing in January 2017.
Calling the Times story “way off,” Trump said, “Everything I’ve done is 100% proper. That’s what I do is I do things proper.”
“Collusion now is dead,” he added. “Because everybody found out after a year of study there has been absolutely no collusion.”
He went back to a frequent target, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and accused her, as well as the Democratic National Committee, of colluding with Russia.
When a reporter asked Trump to specify how the Times’ story was “off,” Trump said, “You’ll find out. But the story was off.”
“If [special counsel] Robert Mueller asks you to come and speak with his committee personally, are you committed still to doing that?” another reporter asked.
Trump reiterated that there was “no collusion” and “no crime.” He also repeated another claim he’s frequently mentioned in the past, saying that “everybody tells me I’m not under investigation.”
Trump is a critical figure in several threads of Mueller’s investigation, and he is the central subject in the obstruction-of-justice case Mueller is said to be building.
The case is based on Trump’s decision to fire FBI director James Comey last May. The White House initially said Comey was fired because of the way he handled the bureau’s probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
But Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that “this Russia thing” was a key factor in his decision. He also reportedly told two Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting one day after terminating Comey that the FBI director’s firing had taken “great pressure” off of him.
Trump said Saturday that he and the White House have been “very open” in cooperating with Mueller’s team. “We could have done it two ways. We could have been very closed and it would have taken years. But you know, sort of, like, when you’ve done nothing wrong, let’s be open and get it over with, because honestly, it’s very, very bad for our country and it’s making us look foolish.”
He added that “this is a country that I don’t want looking foolish, and it’s not going to look foolish as long as I’m here. So we’ve been very open and we just want to get that over with.”
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