Trump: “No, No” I Did Not Ask James Comey To Back Down
Not surprisingly, the American press basically ignored the Colombian President at today’s joint press conference and jumped right into the Russia investigation. To start, Trump said he respected Rosenstein’s decision to appoint a Special Counsel but also repeated that he views it as a “witch hunt” and “divisive” for the nation.
- TRUMP: RESPECTS DECISION ON SPECIAL COUNSEL, BUT DIVIDES NATION
When asked directly whether he in any way asked Comey to end his Micheal Flynn investigation, Trump responded with an emphatic “No, No, next question.”
Reporter: “Did you, at any time, urge former FBI Director James Comey, in any way, shape or form, to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn?”
Trump: “No. No. Next question.”
— ABC News (@ABC) May 18, 2017
And, while it would seem somewhat unlikely, Trump said that, at the time he made the decision to fire Comey, he thought it would be well received as a “bipartisan decision.”
“When I made that decision, I actually thought that it would be a bipartisan decision,” Pres. Trump says of Comey firing. pic.twitter.com/k8quwehKdu
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 18, 2017
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Following meetings with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Trump will face the press for the first time since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Mueller as Special Counsel tasked with looking into allegations of collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
Trump and Santos were expected to discuss, among other things, how to combat record-high cocaine production in Colombia and the renewal of $450 million of annual foreign aide from U.S. taxpayers. Per CBS:
With looming budget cuts to foreign aide in the Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal, Mr. Santos is expected to seek a renewal of $450 million dollars in foreign aide from the U.S. Government in support of Peace Colombia, the peace accord between the Colombian Government and Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).
Colombian Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzon spoke of the importance of support for the peace efforts from the U.S. to reporters in a briefing on Tuesday but downplayed the importance of a public declaration of support.
Complicating U.S. support for terms of the agreement has been the worrying boom of cocaine cultivation and production in Colombia since the implementation of Peace Colombia. Colombian cocaine cultivation has increase by 18 percent from 2015 to 2016 – a record high, according to the Office of National Drug Control and Policy.
All that said, we seriously doubt the American press will have many pressing questions about foreign relations with Colombia and/or cocaine production at today’s joint press conference. Tune in below for the fireworks: