15:32 GMT +320 August 2019
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    President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington

    Trump: Reports of Aides Contacting Russian Intelligence 'Joke'

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    At a news conference on Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump announced Alexander Acosta as his new nominee for Labor Secretary, and answered questions about General Mike Flynn and Russia.

    As soon as the president began taking questions, Trump was immediately asked about the resignation of General Flynn.

    “Mike Flynn is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation, and he respectfully gave it,” Trump said. He asserted that he was upset with the way that Flynn had given incorrect information to Mike Pence — when he didn’t have to, since he had not done anything wrong.

    Trump then spoke on conversations from inside the administration, including his own, being leaked to the press.

    “The people who gave information to the press should be ashamed,” Trump said of the leakers. He also confirmed during the news conference that the leaks are absolutely real.

    "I've actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks, those criminal leaks," Trump stated. "I think, you will see it stopping because now we have our people in."

    Trump going back to speaking on Flynn, specifically, asserted once again that he did not do anything wrong in speaking to the Russian ambassador, but that the problem was him not giving the full details of the communications to Vice President Mike Pence.

    “I don’t think he did anything wrong, if anything he did something right,” Trump said. “He was just doing his job.” 

    The American leader also stressed that he did not direct Flynn to discuss sanctions during calls with Russian Ambassador, but would have directed him to do so.

    "I didn’t direct him, but I would have directed him because that’s his job," Trump stated during a press conference.

    The president, asked again about Russia, asserted that he has no ties to the nation — and that his team has had no contact with Russian intelligence.

    “President Putin called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the winning the election, and he called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the inauguration — but so did many other leaders,” Trump said, adding that he has no property or loans in Russia what-so-ever. "I own nothing in Russia, I have no loans in Russia, I don’t have any deals in Russia," he said.

    A Russian spy ship allegedly detected off the US eastern coast, a newly deployed Russian cruise missile and Russian military airplanes flying near a US destroyer in the Black Sea will not damage Washington’s efforts to build relations with Moscow, Trump added.

    When asked whether the recent developments will damage bilateral relations and undermine the US ability to work with Russia, the US president said, "No."

    Trump was also asked about his support of Wikileaks during the election season, versus his stance on the current leaks.

    “When Wikileaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give — they’re not giving classified information, they're giving stuff that was said in an office about Hillary cheating on the debates — which by the way nobody mentions, nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates,” Trump said. “Can you imagine, seriously, can you imagine if I had received the questions. It would be — the electric chair.”

    When asked if he had directed Flynn to discuss the sanctions with Russia, Trump asserted that he did not, but added that he would have.

    "I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn't doing it, I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him… because that was his job," Trump said.

    Trump also asserted that it would be "great" if the US could get along with Russia, but added that "fake" media reports undermine US ability to reach an agreement with President Vladimir Putin. "The false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia," he said.

    “By the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia. Just so you understand that,” Trump said. “We had Hillary Clinton try and do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20% of the Uranium in our country. You know what uranium is right, it’s this thing called nuclear weapons and other things — lots of things are done with uranium including some bad things. Nobody talks about that.

    He then mocked the former Secretary of State, saying, “Hillary Clinton did the reset remember with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks. He looked at her like, what the hell is she doing?” 

    During the conference, Trump also spoke about what the administration has already accomplished — accusing the media of “not telling the truth,” or treating the American public with the “respect that they deserve.”

    “The press has become so dishonest, that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American public,” Trump said.

    The president stated that he can take his message straight to the people, though he hopes to work on having a better relationship with the press.

    Trump expressed hope that he will get along better with the media in the future, though it may be very difficult to achieve such an outcome at all.

    "I hope going forward we can be a little bit different and maybe get along a little bit better if that’s possible," Trump stated. "But maybe it’s not and that’s okay too."

    Trump asserted that he is working very hard, with success, to bring those jobs back home and keep them here.

    “To be honest, I inherited a mess, at home and abroad. A mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country,” he added.

    He also spoke on terrorism, and the administration's plans to fight it. “ISIS is spreading like cancer, another mess I inherited,” he said. 

    “We do not go abroad in search of war, we really are searching for peace — but it’s peace through strength,” Trump said.

    He stated that despite the fact that he can’t get his cabinet approved, the administration is running like a “well oiled machine,” and continued to list the campaign promises that he has kept, or has made moves towards keeping.

    “We’ve withdrawn from the job killing disaster that is the trans pacific partnership,” he said, adding that there will be individual bilateral trade deals instead. 

    He also spoke on his efforts to crackdown on the border, and the flow of drugs into the nation through Mexican cartels, as well as his effort to keep radical Islamists from immigrating to the United States.

    Additionally Trump announced that next week he will be issuing a “new and comprehensive” executive order to “protect our people.” When asked by a reporter from PBS to provide more details on what the order will entail, Trump explained that it will be tailored to the court decision that blocked his previous order.

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    Mike Flynn, Donald Trump, United States, Russia
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