President Trump’s silence lasted just over 12 hours. Then, he let it all out.
The appointment of a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between his campaign and Russia was the “single greatest witch hunt in American history,” he tweeted.
Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post.
Hours later, during a press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Trump revisited the topic.
“I think it’s totally ridiculous. Everybody thinks so,” Trump said when asked about the appointment. “Everybody, even my enemies have said there is no collusion.”
The comments underscore Trump’s seemingly unstoppable drive to combat an investigation that has dogged him since his first day in office — even if it prolongs the controversy and potentially puts him at greater legal risk.
Trump has treated the Russia investigation as a public relations battle pitting him against his many enemies. But he has been slow to acclimate to new perils — particularly the legal ones — that seem to be mounting.
At nearly every opportunity, in interviews, tweets and public statements, Trump has insisted that the investigation is a politically motivated farce.
“James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!” he tweeted in March.
Later in an April interview with the Washington Examiner, he declared: “The Russia is a faux story. It’s made up.”
Meanwhile, the investigation has continued and is now criminal in nature, according to senators who were briefed by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein on Thursday.
Trump has never been one to shy away from prejudging the outcome of investigations. During the campaign, he and aides encouraged his crowds in choruses of “Lock her up!,” demanding the conviction and jailing of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the ongoing investigation into her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Trump has been dismissive of the seriousness of accusations he has made against others, including when he alleged without evidence that President Obama wiretapped the phones in Trump Tower, an act that would have been illegal.