WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump projected calm on Wednesday regarding the investigation headed by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into the links between his campaign and Russia, adding that – despite the charges filed against several of his former advisers – the probe has “nothing to do” with him.
Trump telephoned a journalist at The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, to refute a story published two days ago by another newspaper – The Washington Post – saying that the president was nervous and enraged on Monday, the day the first charges in the Mueller investigation were made public.
“I’m not under investigation, as you know,” Trump told Haberman on Wednesday afternoon. “And even if you look at (the indictment of former campaign director Paul Manafort), there’s not even a mention of Trump in there.”
“It has nothing to do with us,” Trump said, apparently referring to himself, adding that “I’m not angry at anybody.”
Manafort and his former business partner Rick Gates turned themselves in to the FBI on Monday after being indicted in Mueller’s investigation on 12 charges linked to financial crimes, charges that apparently do not involve their activities while working for Trump’s election campaign.
On the other hand, Trump’s campaign is linked to the charges filed against George Papadopoulos, who was one of the mogul’s foreign policy advisers and who was indicted after admitting that he lied to the FBI about his contacts with individuals connected with Moscow.
On Tuesday, Trump took pains to try and minimize Papadopoulos’s role on his campaign staff, saying that he was merely a “low level volunteer,” despite the fact that – according to press reports – he was in frequent contact with top campaign officials and tried to set up a meeting between the candidate and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In his phone call to The Times, the president also said that he had just received “fantastic poll numbers” from swing states provided to him by Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel.
Trump went on to list what he feels are his biggest accomplishments, including his focus on deregulation and low unemployment rates, but he did not reveal the numbers he said McDaniel had provided to him.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday found that Trump’s approval rating stands at 38 percent, the lowest the survey has found since February.
He also told Haberman that he is “really enjoying” being president, noting that “I’m in the office early and leave late; it’s very smooth.”
This is not the first time that Trump has telephoned New York Times or Washington Post journalists to give his opinion on something, despite the fact that he regularly accuses those newspapers of being sources of “fake news.”