President Trump held a joint press conference Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg Wednesday in the White House East Room, taking the opportunity to bash Democrats and question investigation into Russian interference.
“There was absolutely no collusion. Everybody knows it,” Mr. Trump said, claiming the real collusion was between Russia and Democrats.
“There is collusion, but it is really with the Democrats and the Russians far more than it is with the Republicans and Russians,” he said. “So, the witch hunt continues.”
The president’s comments come amid reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team may interview the president directly. Asked if he would be open to such an interview, Mr. Trump said, “We’ll see what happens.” In June 2017, the president said he would “100 percent” be willing to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller under oath.
“When they have no collusion, and nobody’s found any collusion, at any level, it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview,” the president said Wednesday.
Solberg, asked what she makes of the Russia probe and its impact on the global stage said that it’s an issue for American politics.
“I think that it’s up to every political system and country to scrutinize and discuss their own political agenda in their countries, and I respect that very much, and that this is an issue for American politics,” she said.
The president also emphasized that there will be no deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program without funding for a border wall.
“No. No,” the president said, when asked if he would consider DACA with wall funding. “It’s got to include the wall. We need the wall for security. We need the wall for safety. We need the wall for stopping the drugs from pouring in. I would imagine that the people in the room — both Democrat and Republican —I really believe they’re going to come up with a solution which has been going on for a long time.”
That seemed to conflict with comments the president made in a meeting with key congressional leaders Tuesday, when he said he would be open to a clean DACA bill. The White House failed to include that remark in its original transcript, releasing a full transcript when the error was noticed.
The president also made some news on his conversation early Wednesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, saying he thinks the conversation had “good energy.” The two had discussed the outcome of recent talks between the South and North Korea. Vice President Mike Pence will lead the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month.
“We have certainly problems with North Korea, but a lot of good talks are going on right now. A lot of good energy, I see a lot of good energy — I like it very much, what I’m seeing” Mr. Trump said. “I just spoke this morning, as you know, with the president, President Moon of South Korea. He had some really great meetings, his representatives had a great, great meeting. And I had some very good feedback from that, so hopefully a lot of good things are going to work out.”
Scheduled press conferences are a rare thing in Mr. Trump’s White House, although he often takes questions from reporters on his way to board Marine One or during meetings with members of Congress and his administration. In the last two days, the president has made extended comments to the press, saying he wants to toughen libel laws to make it easier to punish news organizations, consider comprehensive immigration reform, and possibly bring back “earmarks,” a form of federal money allocation in which members of Congress send money to their districts via unrelated legislation.
Follow below for updates from earlier.
Paris agreement was “very unfair” to U.S., Trump says
The president, asked about the Paris agreement he announced he would pull the U.S. out of, noted the agreement was “very unfair” to the U.S.
“It treated the United States very unfairly and frankly it’s an agreement that I had no problem with but I had an agreement with what they signed,” he said.
The president also said his administration is very “strong” on the environment.
Trump: It’s better to work with Russia
“I will say this. I am for massive gas and oil and everything else,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “Putin can’t love that.”
“It’s a lot better to work with other countries,” the president said, “whether it’s Russia or China or India.”
“That’s a good thing,” he said.
Solberg on Norway’s relationship with Russia
Solberg, asked about her opinion of Mr. Trump’s stance to attempt to work with Russia when possible, said Russia is certainly a major political player. Norway is a neighbor to Russia.
Solberg said Norway has to do “day to day” work with Russia, in a fragile geographic region.
“There is no collusion,” Trump says of Russia investigation
The president couldn’t pass up an opportunity to address the Russia investigation when it came up.
“There was absolutely no collusion. Everybody knows it,” he said.
The president said a “phony cloud” that is a “Democrat hoax” is hovering over the administration.
Solberg on Russia investigation: This is up to American politics
Solberg, asked what she thinks of the Russia investigation, said that is an issue for American politics.
Trump says he won’t agree to immigration deal without a wall
Mr. Trump, asked if he would sign any immigration reform and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) legislation that does not include funding for a wall, had a straight answer: “No, no, no.”
“Any solution has to include a wall because without a wall, it all doesn’t work,” Mr. Trump said.
“Security is number one,” he added.
That seemed to differ from what Mr. Trump said on Tuesday, when he suggested he would like to do a clean DACA bill.
Solberg: It’s important to have fair trade, a ‘green’ economy
Solberg praised Norway’s relationship with the U.S., saying Norway supports close to half a million jobs in the U.S.
“The U.S. has an impressive business community,” she said.
Solberg also emphasized the importance of a “green” economy, and climate change, issues which haven’t been at the top of Mr. Trump’s priority.
Trump: We face threats together: “We’re partners”
The president continued to emphasize the important of the U.S.-Norway relationship.
“We have a newfound friendship,” he said.
Trump: Norway is a vital, valued ally
Mr. Trump, reading from written remarks, said Norway is a vital and valued ally in the war on ISIS and terror. He also praised Norway’s trade relationship with the U.S., saying the U.S. has a trade “surplus” with Norway. The president praised Norway for its “reciprocal” trade relationship.