By Sari Horwitz, Ashley Parker, Ed O’Keefe, (c) 2017, The Washington Post · May 19, 2017 -
President Donald Trump on Thursday said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, while adding the caveat that he can only speak for himself, and denied ever asking FBI Director James Comey to back off his agency’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump spoke in the wake of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate any coordination between Trump associates and Russian officials.
“I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt, and there is no collusion between - certainly myself and my campaign, but I can only speak for myself and the Russians. Zero,” Trump said, at a joint news conference Thursday afternoon with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia. “Believe me, there’s no collusion.”
Asked whether he urged Comey - as the fired FBI chief said he did in notes written after a meeting with the president - to drop the Flynn investigation, Trump said, “No, no,” before ordering the media to move on to the “next question.”
Also Thursday afternoon, Rosenstein went to Capitol Hill and indicated to the full Senate that the White House’s initial account of Comey’s firing was not accurate because he said he knew that Comey would be fired before he wrote a controversial memo that the White House initially used as its justification for the dismissal.
Rosenstein did, however, emphasize to the senators the independent authority that the new special counsel has in the Russian investigation.