President Trump dismissed any allegations of wrongdoing in connection with the ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times published Thursday.
The interview occurred even as the president has repeatedly called into question the newspaper’s integrity as a news organization, including persistent references to “the failing New York Times,” in public remarks. According to the paper, Trump initially reached out to New York Times publisher, A. G. Sulzberger, requesting an off-the-record dinner. Sulzberger instead negotiated an on-the-record interview that included NYT reporters, which the White House accepted.
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that his outgoing deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has assured him that he himself is not a target of the investigation, even as an increasing number of Trump associates with various connections to the 2016 Trump campaign find themselves in legal jeopardy including arrests, asset forfeitures, plea deals, and jail time.
“He told the attorneys that I’m not a subject, I’m not a target,” the president said as he drank a Diet Coke on a gold coaster. Regardless of the status of the formal investigation, the new Democratic majority in the House remains in a position to initiate impeachment proceedings, should they choose to do so.
Here are 5 takeaways from our interview with President Trump https://t.co/i6qfUiwjSE
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 1, 2019
Among other issues relevant to the Russia investigation, Trump responded in the interview to allegations that a planned Trump Tower in Moscow was in some way connected to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Members of Trump’s team and Trump himself have repeatedly reframed the extent of their dealings with Russia. As for Trump Tower, the president downplayed the level of commitment made to the project and reinforced that the endeavor was ultimately a non-starter.
“I had no money invested,” he said of the project.
When asked about statements made by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, indicating that discussions continued throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump indicated that Giuliani was “incorrect” in saying so.
Also in relation to the campaign, Trump responded to questions regarding the recent arrest of longtime associate and self-proclaimed political operative Roger Stone, who has been accused of coordinating with WikiLeaks to damage the campaign of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton,
Did Trump personally direct Stone to orchestrate the document dump in opposition to the Clinton campaign?
“No I didn’t. I never did,” the president said.
An overview of the full interview, which also touched on topics including Trump’s recently tense relationship with the intelligence community and the president’s policy on Syria, is available online.