President Donald Trump said Thursday that he believes Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in the Russia investigation, will treat him fairly, contradicting some members of his party who have waged a weekslong campaign to try to discredit Mueller and the continuing inquiry.
During an impromptu 30-minute interview with The New York Times at his golf club in West Palm Beach, the president did not demand an end to the Russia investigations swirling around his administration, but insisted 16 times that there has been “no collusion” discovered by the inquiry.
“It makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position,” Trump said of the investigation. “So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”
Hours after he accused the Chinese of secretly shipping oil to North Korea, Trump explicitly said for the first time that he has “been soft” on China on trade in the hopes that its leaders will pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
He hinted that his patience may soon end, however, signaling his frustration with the reported oil shipments.
“Oil is going into North Korea. That wasn’t my deal!” he exclaimed, raising the possibility of aggressive trade actions against China. “If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I can do what I’ve always said I want to do.”
Despite saying that when he visited China in November, President Xi Jinping “treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China,” Trump said that “they have to help us much more.”
In the interview, the president touted the strength of his campaign victories and his accomplishments in office, including passage of a tax overhaul this month. But he also expressed frustration and anger at Democrats, who he said refused to negotiate on legislation.
Nonetheless, Trump said he still hoped Democrats will work with him on bipartisan legislation in the coming year to overhaul health care, improve the country’s crumbling infrastructure and help young immigrants brought to the country as children.