In a flurry of tweets lashing out at people and concepts including the special counsel Robert Mueller, “fake news media” and “this phony crime”, Trump, for the first time, said Russia aided his 2016 presidential win.
Donald Trump has denied that Russia helped elect him president, less than an hour after he admitted Russia did help to elect him president.
“Russia, Russia, Russia!” the president tweeted on Thursday morning.
“That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax. And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”
For a president who has previously denied Russia interfered in the 2016 election at all – despite the conclusions of US intelligence agencies – the admission of Russian help was startling.
But soon after Trump’s statement, he made a prompt about-turn.
“Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia did not help me at all,” Trump said during a White House press conference.
On Wednesday Mueller said his two-year investigation had “established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome”.
Robert Mueller gives first public statement on Trump-Russia investigation – video
Mueller’s report states that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion”.
The report also detailed 11 instances of potential obstruction of justice by Trump and his campaign. Mueller has said charging Trump with a crime was “not an option we could consider”, because of justice department policy.
Mueller added: “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”
Trump was en route to Colorado on Thursday morning, to address a graduation ceremony for the US air force academy.