A look at President Trump's administration and the rest of Washington:
- Trump wants to boost defense spending by $54 billion, a 10% jump
- Justice Department shifts course in controversial Texas voting rights case
- Trump says "nobody knew healthcare could be this complicated."
- Trump says Hollywood's obsession with him led to Oscar snafu
- Trump's nominee for Navy secretary withdraws over financial conflicts
- Democrats pick Tom Perez to lead them from the political wilderness
In his news conference, reporters repeatedly pressed President Trump on the question of whether anyone from his campaign had contacts with Russia intelligence officials, and he repeatedly avoided answering.
Trump was asked the question five times and eventually said that "nobody I know of" had such contacts.
Here are the relevant excerpts from the transcript of the news conference provided by CQ Roll Call. Some words in the questions were not audible for the transcription:
QUESTION : During your campaign, did anyone from your team [have contacts with the] Russian government or Russian intelligence? And if so, what was the nature of those conversations?
TRUMP : The failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know. It was -- it's a joke. And the people mentioned in the story, I notice they were on television today saying they never even spoke to Russia. They weren't even a part, really -- I mean, they were such a minor part. They -- I hadn't spoken to them.
I think the one person -- I don't think I've ever spoken to him. I don't think I've ever met him. And he actually said he was a very low-level member of I think a committee for a short period of time. I don't think I ever met him. Now, it's possible that I walked into a room and he was sitting there, but I don't think I ever met him. I didn't talk to him ever. And he thought it was a joke.
The other person said he never spoke to Russia; never received a call. Look at his phone records, et cetera, et cetera. And the other person, people knew that he represented various countries, but I don't think he represented Russia, but knew that he represented various countries. That's what he does. I mean, people know that.
That's Mr. Manafort, who's -- by the way, who's by the way a respected man. He's a respected man. But I think he represented the Ukraine or Ukraine government or somebody, but everybody -- people knew that. Everybody knew that.
So, these people -- and he said that he has absolutely nothing to do and never has with Russia. And he said that very forcefully. I saw his statement. He said it very forcefully. Most of the papers don't print it because that's not good for their stories.
So the three people that they talked about all totally deny it. And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia. President Putin called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the win of the election.
He then, called me up extremely nicely to congratulate me on the inauguration, which was terrific. But so did many other leaders, almost all other leaders from almost all of the country. So that's the extent.
Russia is fake news. Russia -- this is fake news put out by the media.
[Several minutes later]
QUESTION : I just want to get you to clarify this very important point. Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign? And on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real leaks?
TRUMP : Well the leaks are real. You're the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake. So one thing that I felt it was very important to do -- and I hope we can correct it. Because there's nobody I have more respect for -- well, maybe a little bit but the reporters, good reporters.
[after a lengthy answer, the reporter repeats the question about contacts between his campaign and Russia}
TRUMP : Well, I had nothing to do with it. I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there, I have no anything.
[several minutes later]
QUESTION : Thank you. I was just hoping that we could get a yes or no answer on one of these questions involving Russia. Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?
TRUMP: Well I told you, Gen. Flynn obviously was dealing. So that's one person. But he was dealing, as he should have been.
QUESTION : During the election?
TRUMP: No. Nobody that I know of. Nobody...
QUESTION : So you're not aware of any contact during the course...
TRUMP: Look, look, look...
QUESTION : ... of the election?
TRUMP: How many times do I have to answer this question?
QUESTION : Can you just say yes or no?
TRUMP : Russia is a ruse.
I know you have to get up and ask a question. It's so important. Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven't made a phone call to Russia in years. Don't speak to people from Russia. Not that I wouldn't. I just have nobody to speak to.
I spoke to Putin twice. He called me on the election. I told you this. And he called me on the inauguration, a few days ago. We had a very good talk, especially the second one, lasted for a pretty long period of time. I'm sure you probably get it because it was classified. So I'm sure everybody in this room perhaps has it. But we had a very, very good talk.
I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.
Now, Manafort has totally denied it. He denied it. Now people knew that he was a consultant over in that part of the world for a while, but not for Russia. I think he represented Ukraine or people having to do with Ukraine, or people that -- whoever. But people knew that. Everybody knew that.
QUESTION : But in his capacity as your campaign manager, was he in touch with Russian officials during the election?
TRUMP: You know what? He said no. I could only tell you what he -- now he was replaced long before the election. You know that, right? He was replaced long before the election. When all of this stuff started coming out, it came out during the election. But Paul Manafort, who's a good man also by the way, Paul Manfort was replaced long before the election took place. He was only there for a short period of time.