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Trump: 'There were no Russians in our campaign'
President Trump jokes, "Are there any Russians here tonight?" while addressing investigation into Russian collusion https://t.co/QCc5abpiup
– NBC News (@NBCNews) August 3, 2017
President Trump launched a fresh defense of his campaign Thursday night following news that the special counsel investigating ties between his campaign associates and Moscow had impaneled a grand jury in Washington.
"Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign, there never were," Trump said during a campaign-style rally in Huntington, W.Va.
"We didn't win because of Russia, we won because of you," he added, gesturing to the audience.
Trump proceeded to joke about Russians being spotted in states that he won during the 2016 presidential election, including West Virginia.
"Have you seen any Russian in West Virginia, or Ohio or Pennsylvania?" Trump asked. "Are there any Russians here tonight?"
The president accused political opponents of pushing a "fake story" that he called "demeaning to all of us and, most importantly, demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution."
"They can't beat us at the voting booths, so they're trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want," he said.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the federal probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, had impaneled a grand jury in Washington for the investigation.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that grand jury subpoenas have been issued relating to a June 2016 meeting between several Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer who was presented as having damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., set up the meeting with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and it was attended by then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
The special counsel utilizing a grand jury would represent a new phase of the federal probe, which has centered on Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election.
"Former FBI Director Jim Comey said three times the president is not under investigation and we have no reason to believe that has changed," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday when asked about the grand jury.
[Source: By Jesse Byrnes, The Hill, Washington, 03Aug17]
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