While many top Republicans have attempted to discredit the the US Justice Department's special counsel leading the investigation into alleged Russian interference in last year's election, President Donald Trump believes Robert Mueller “will be fair” to him in the probe.
“There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair,” Trump told The New York Times in a wide ranging interview on Thursday at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida.
"I think that Bob Mueller will be fair, and everybody knows that there was no collusion," he added.
Trump has threatened to fire Mueller in the past and says he accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word that he did not meddle in the 2016 US election.
Sixteen times during the interview, Trump repeated "no collusion" had been discovered as a result of the investigation.
“There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime,” Trump said.
The US president said the investigation “makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position.”
“So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country,” he said.
Obama AG did more to protect president
Trump also said it was “too bad” that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, the initial step that led to Mueller’s eventual appointment as special counsel.
Trump claimed former President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, did much more to protect him politically.
"I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him," Trump said.
He added: "When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest."
'Democrats made up Russian story'
Trump repeated his belief that Democrats “made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election that in theory Democrats should always win."
Asked whether he would order the Justice Department to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, Trump appeared to remain focused on the Russia investigation.
"I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department," he said, echoing claims by his supporters that as president he has the power to open or end an investigation. "But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter."
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.
I had to support Moore
When asked about Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s loss earlier this month to Democrat Doug Jones, Trump said he endorsed the scandal-stricken candidate because he has “to endorse Republicans as the head of the party.”
Trump had affirmed his endorsement of the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice after The Washington Post reported allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore in November.