President Donald Trump on Thursday categorically denied pressuring former FBI director James Comey to end the FBI’s investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. He went on to sharply criticize the investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russian officials to influence the U.S. election.
During a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, a reporter offered Trump “a chance to go on record” about some of this week’s bombshell reports on his administration.
“Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey, in any way shape or form, to close or back down the investigation into Michael Flynn? And also, as you look back —”
“No. No. Next question,” Trump interrupted tersely.
“Next question,” the reporter continued. “As you look back over the past six months or a year, have you had any recollection where you have wondered if anything you have done has been something that might be worthy of criminal charges in these investigations or impeachment, as some on the left are implying?”
Trump then launched into a lengthy response.
“I think it is totally ridiculous,” he began. “Everybody thinks so. And again, we have to get back to working our country properly so that we can take care of the problems that we have. We have plenty of problems.”
The President also described Comey as “very unpopular with most people,” and said he was surprised that there wasn’t bipartisan support for Comey’s ouster.
“We need a great director of the FBI,” Trump said. “I cherish the FBI. It’s special.”
The FBI’s reputation, he said, had been damaged during the presidential campaign, given “what happened with respect to the Clinton campaign. And even, you could say, directly or indirectly, with respect to the much more successful Trump campaign.”
From there he veered into a wide-ranging policy discussion, touching on tax cuts, military spending and health care. Obamacare, he declared, “is a fallacy.”
The investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russian officials, Trump said, was the last thing he wanted to focus his attention on.
“Everybody, even my enemies, have said there is no collusion,” he said.
This post has been updated.