As several news outlets reported that special counsel Robert Mueller has empaneled a grand jury in the Russia probe, signaling that the investigation has intensified, President Donald Trump on Thursday night dismissed the “Russia hoax” and instead called on prosecutors to investigate Hillary Clinton.
During a rally in West Virginia, Trump returned to his comfort zone of a campaign-style speech, railing against his former rival like it’s still 2016. As he addressed the Russia probe, he quickly pivoted to Clinton, suggesting that she should be the target of federal investigations instead of the Trump campaign.
“The Russia story is a total fabrication. It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That’s all it is. It just makes them feel better when they have nothing else to talk about,” Trump said at the beginning of a five-minute riff about the Russia probes.
“What the prosecutors should be looking at are Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails,” he said.
When he mentioned Clinton’s name, the crown began chanting “Lock her up,” just as they did on the campaign trail. And when the chant began to fade away, Trump continued to rail against Clinton.
“They should be looking at the paid Russian speeches and the owned Russian companies,” he said. “Or let them look at the uranium she sold that is now in the hands of very angry Russians.”
He then returned to his own campaign, denying that his team worked with Russia.
“Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign, there never were. We didn’t win because of Russia, we won because of you,” Trump said to cheers in the crowd.
“They can’t beat us at the voting booths so they’re trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want,” he added.
After painting the Russia probes as a witch hunt by those who lost the 2016 election, Trump said that he just hopes that the investigation is fair.
“I just hope the final determination is a truly honest one which is what the millions of people who gave us our big win in November deserve and what all Americans who want a better future want and deserve,” he said.
His speech followed reports that Mueller is putting together a grand jury in Washington, D.C. for the Russia probe. The move signals the scope of the investigation, but Trump’s lawyer said he was not surprised by the move.
As the Russia probe has intensified, Trump has become increasingly angered by it. He has been publicly bashing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, openly lamenting that Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe. As part of his public humiliation campaign against Sessions, Trump criticized the Justice Department for not investigating his campaign rival, Hillary Clinton. He made these comments even after his team said that he would not go after her now that Trump is president.