Trump Tweets, and Then Retracts, Statement That Russia Helped Him Get Elected – The New York Times

Mr. Trump has been reluctant to fully embrace the intelligence agencies’ findings that Russia was behind the 2016 election interference, but he has consistently argued that he alone was responsible for his unexpected victory. The “Russia hoax,” Mr. Trump has argued, is one fabricated by Democrats who are angry they lost the White House.

The president’s contradictory statements on Thursday morning arrived a day after the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, spoke publicly for the first time about his investigation’s findings. The president and his critics had conflicting interpretations about Mr. Mueller’s brief remarks — Mr. Trump and his supporters took them to mean “case closed,” while his critics saw them as a call to impeachment.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House and in a subsequent Twitter post, Mr. Trump revived personal attacks on Mr. Mueller, asserting that the special counsel should never have been chosen for that position — he was “highly conflicted” — and had failed to get the job he really wanted, F.B.I. director, an allegation addressed and countered in Mr. Mueller’s final report. Mr. Mueller, who had previously served in that role in two administrations, did not go to the White House looking for a job, one of president’s senior advisers, Stephen K. Bannon, told investigators.

Mr. Bannon, the report said, “recalled telling the president that the purported conflicts were ‘ridiculous’ and that none of them was real or could come close to justifying precluding Mueller from serving as special counsel.”

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