US President Donald Trump Thursday said he believes the probe into Russian meddling in the US election “makes the country look very bad,” according to The New York Times.
Speaking to the newspaper, Trump said he believes special counsel Robert Mueller will treat him fairly — a view in contrast with recent attacks on Mueller’s credibility from Republicans, who have pressed for a new independent prosecutor to investigate anti-Trump bias.
“It makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position,” Trump told the Times. “So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”
The president added that he was not concerned about the ongoing investigation — which his lawyers insisted would be finished by Thanksgiving — as “everybody knows” there was no Russian collusion.
“There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair,” Trump said of Mueller.
He repeated the allegations were invented by Democrats “as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election,” the Times reported.
Trump also distanced himself from ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was indicted in October in the first legal action stemming from the investigation.
“He worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months?” he told the Times, mentioning Manafort’s connections to other Republicans including John McCain and Ronald Reagan.
According to the newspaper, Trump added it was “too bad” that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the probe — pointing out that although he did not want to “get into loyalty,” Barack Obama’s first attorney general, Eric Holder Jr, “totally protected him.”
Meanwhile, questioned on the re-opening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, Trump maintained focus on the collusion probe.
He told the Times that “for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.”