Trump Calls for Quick End to Election-Related Russia Probes
President Donald Trump called Monday for a quick conclusion to the investigations into whether his campaign colluded with Russia last year to help him win the White House.
"They ought to get to the end of it because the American people are sick of it," Trump told reporters at a White House news conference.
As he has in the past, the Republican president said "the whole Russia thing was just an excuse" by Democrats to explain his upset win over Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state.
The Justice Department appointed special counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to lead the criminal probe of Trump campaign links to Russian operatives. There are signs Mueller also is investigating whether the president obstructed justice by firing another former FBI director, James Comey, while he was heading the agency's Russia investigation before Mueller took over.
U.S. media reports earlier this year said Trump had discussed firing Mueller, but Trump said Monday that he is not considering it.
In addition to the criminal probe, there are numerous congressional panels carrying out lengthy Russia investigations, interviewing key campaign and Trump administration officials, with no indication of when the probes might end or what conclusions they might reach.
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, carried out an extensive campaign to undermine U.S. democracy and help Trump, a real estate mogul making his first run for public office, win the election last November. But Putin has denied the Russian involvement and Trump has frequently debunked the Russia connection to his campaign as political posturing by opposition Democrats.
Trump's comments about the Russia probes came during a lengthy question-and-answer session in the White House Rose Garden after he met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom Trump has often disparaged for failing to repeal national health care policies championed by former President Barack Obama.
But Trump declared that "my relationship is outstanding, has been outstanding" with McConnell and said the two "have the same agenda" — to reform the country's tax code and cut taxes by the end of the year, and next year again attempt to overhaul the health care law.
"The Republican party is very, very unified," Trump said, despite a handful of dissident Senate Republicans who derailed the health care legislation. He blamed his legislative failures on rival Democratic lawmakers, whom he described as "good at obstruction," but with "terrible policies."
Trump said he could favor a "short-term deal" with Democrats to stabilize the country's health care insurance markets and vowed the U.S. is "going to get drug prices way down." Trump said he would soon announce a plan to attack the country's opioid addiction crisis, which has killed tens of thousands of people.
President Donald Trump answers questions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Rose Garden at the White House, Oct. 16, 2017.