While traveling aboard Air Force One, the President swung by the Press cabin and made comments during an hour long “conversation” with reporters. The conversation was initially off-the-record which CNN reported is standard practice spanning several administrations. The design is to provide insight into what the President is thinking, but on Thursday afternoon the Administration said excerpts of his comments could be published.
Initially, the President lamented the health care repeal process and said..”I’d say the only thing more difficult than peace between Israel and the Palestinians is health care. It’s like this narrow road that about a quarter of an inch wide. You get a couple here, and you say, ‘great,’ and then you find out you just lost four over here. Health care is tough.”
The President also gave some insight into his discussion with Putin CNN reported:
“I said to him, were you involved with the meddling in the election? He said, absolutely not. I was not involved. He was very strong on it. I then said to him again, in a totally different way, were you involved with the meddling. He said I was not — absolutely not.”
Pressed again on whether he told Putin he believed him, Trump offered:
“I asked him, were you involved? He said, very strongly — said to him a second time — totally different — were you involved? Because we can’t let that happen. And I mean, whether it’s Russia or anybody else, we can’t let there be even a scintilla of doubt when it comes to an election. I mean, I’m very strong on that,” Trump said. “I said, look, we can’t — we can’t have — now, he said absolutely not twice. What do you do? End up in a fistfight with somebody, OK? Because then I brought up Syria.”
Trump also said he likely will invite Putin to the White House — just not yet.
“I would say yes, yeah. At the right time. I don’t think this is the right time, but the answer is yes I would,” Trump said.
When it came to Trump Jr. the President surprised reporters not just saying he would be open to his son testifying but also staunchly defending his son.
Trump said that the press has been unfairly critical of his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, whom the younger Trump believed to be a “Russian government lawyer,” according to the emails disclosed after The New York Times reported on the meeting.
“Don is — as many of you know Don — he’s a good boy. He’s a good kid. And he had a meeting; nothing happened with the meeting. It was a short meeting, as he told me — because I only heard about it two or three days ago,” Trump said.
“Honestly, in a world of politics, most people are going to take that meeting. If somebody called and said, ‘Hey’ — and you’re a Democrat — and by the way, they have taken them — ‘Hey, I have … some information on Donald Trump. You’re running against Donald Trump. Can I see you?’ I mean, how many people are not going to take the meeting?” Trump said.
During his remarks the President also commented he is serious about using solar panels on the border wall, placing tariffs on importing steel and using trade to punish China for working with North Korea.