Trump: ‘I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected’

Donald Trump

President Trump has long downplayed Russian interference in the 2016 election, often claiming it was an "excuse" invented by Democrats to explain how they lost an election they were favoured to win.

But on Thursday, Trump briefly admitted Moscow's involvement aided in his victory.

"Russia, Russia, Russia! That's all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax," the president tweeted. "And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected."

"It was a crime that didn't exist," Trump continued. "So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media, say he fought back against this phoney crime that didn't exist, this horrendous false accusation, and he shouldn't fight back, he should just sit back and take it. Could this be Obstruction? No, Mueller didn't find Obstruction either. Presidential Harassment!"

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn, the president backed off his assertion that Moscow's meddling helped him win.

"No, Russia did not get me elected," Trump said. "You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected."

"Russia didn't help me at all," he continued. "Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side."

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President Donald Trump meets with Vladimir Putin in Finland
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President Donald Trump meets with Vladimir Putin in Finland
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND - JULY 16, 2018: The national flags of Russia and the United States seen ahead of a meeting of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R), U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and First lady Melania Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND - JULY 16: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'KREMLIN PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) (L-R) US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and his wife Jenni Haukio pose for a photo during their meeting in Helsinki, Finland on July 16, 2018. (Photo by Kremlin Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R), U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and First lady Melania Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they meet in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 16, 2018: US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin give a joint news conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin react at the end of the joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
U.S. President Donald Trump receives a football from Russia's President Vladimir Putin during their joint news conference after a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and First lady Melania Trump pose for a picture with a football during a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 16, 2018: US First Lady Melania Trump, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and US President Donald Trump (L-R) after a news conference at the Presidential Palace. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump holds a football thrown to her by U.S. President Donald Trump during his joint news conference with Russia's President Vladimir Putin after a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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The president's comments came a day after special counsel Robert Mueller issued his first public statement on his investigation into the Russian election interference.

His 448-page report extensively documented the Kremlin's effort's to influence the general election in Trump's favor, most notably by releasing troves of emails — some of which were politically damaging — from hacked Democratic accounts. The special counsel's report concluded that the Russian government interfered in the election "in sweeping and systematic fashion," and his office indicted 34 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges ranging from computer hacking to conspiracy and financial crimes.

Mueller found no conspiracy between Russia and Trump's campaign. But he chronicled at least 10 episodes of efforts by Trump or his staff to obstruct the federal probe.

Trump, who six weeks ago said Mueller acted "honourably," attacked the special counsel on Thursday.

"I think Mueller is a true never Trumper," he said.

The president again falsely claimed that the Mueller report cleared him on obstruction of justice. Although Mueller declined to charge Trump with obstruction, he explicitly refused to exonerate the president.

"If we had had confidence that the president had clearly not committed a crime, we would have said so," Mueller said Wednesday, adding: "Charging the president with a crime is not an option we could consider."

Mueller's statement, which he said would be his final word on the matter, immediately ramped up pressure on congressional Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has resisted calls from some members of her party for Trump's impeachment in the wake of Mueller's report, did not rule it out. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, said "all options are on the table."

Trump told reporters he couldn't fathom his own impeachment.

"It's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word," he said. "It's a giant presidential harassment."

This article first appeared on Yahoo

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