Trump lashes out at those who backed Russia probe

President Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Thursday. He called his opponents "losers" and celebrated the fact that the special counsel's investigation has ended.
President Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Thursday. He called his opponents "losers" and celebrated the fact that the special counsel's investigation has ended.PHOTO: REUTERS

He says opponents tried to claim power illegally, applauds the end of investigation

GRAND RAPIDS (Michigan) • At his first political rally since the end of the Russia collusion investigation, US President Donald Trump accused backers of the probe of trying to overturn the 2016 election and attempting "illegally" to claim power.

Declaring the country "hurt" by the probe, Mr Trump on Thursday called his opponents "losers" and celebrated the fact the investigation had come to a close.

"After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over," he told a crowd of thousands at a Grand Rapids arena in Michigan, a political swing state.

"The Russia witch hunt was a plan by those who lost the election to try and illegally regain power by framing innocent Americans - many of them, they suffered - with an elaborate hoax," he said.

On Sunday, US Attorney-General William Barr released a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's more than 300-page report about his investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election.

The investigation did not establish that members of Mr Trump's campaign conspired with Russia during the election.

The findings delighted the President and his inner circle, who spent the first two years of his administration confronting a cloud of suspicion over how the New York businessman and political novice had won the White House.

With that cloud largely lifted, Mr Trump has let loose, calling out those who supported the investigation and referring to evil acts of treason by his opponents.

HOAX
The Russia witch hunt was a plan by those who lost the election to try and illegally regain power by framing innocent Americans - many of them, they suffered - with an elaborate hoax.

MR DONALD TRUMP

Mr Trump revisited that theme at Thursday's rally, knocking the media and Democrats and calling for accountability.

"These are sick people and there has to be accountability because it's all lies and they know it's lies," Mr Trump said.

For the President, the rally capped a week of rejoicing in the results of the investigation he had repeatedly called a "witch hunt", and stewing over its origins.

The Justice Department acknowledged on Thursday that the still-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election submitted last week by Mr Mueller was more than 300 pages long.

Mr Barr had notably declined to publicly disclose its length.

The number of pages suggests that Mr Mueller went well beyond the kind of bare-bones summary required by the Justice Department regulation governing his appointment, and had detailed his conclusions at length. And it raises questions about what Mr Barr might have left out of the four dense pages he sent to Congress on Sunday.

Mr Mueller left unresolved in his report the question of whether Mr Trump had committed obstruction of justice by impeding the Russia investigation. In his letter to Congress, Mr Barr said he and his deputy, Mr Rod Rosenstein, determined there was insufficient evidence to establish that the President committed obstruction of justice.

REUTERS, NYTIMES\

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2019, with the headline 'Trump lashes out at those who backed Russia probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe