President Donald Trump has downplayed the significance of several of his associates having had dealings with Russians before and during his 2016 presidential campaign as “peanut stuff.”
According to court documents and filings relating to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, at least 16 people connected to Trump had communicated with Russian officials, including former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and Trump’s ex-attorney Michael Cohen.
All 16 people who have been named as having had contact with Russians deny any collusion to assist Trump with his election campaign.
Speaking to Reuters, Trump said there was nothing untoward about any of these meetings or contacts, before seeming to shift the conversation to his Democratic opponent.
“The stuff you’re talking about is peanut stuff,” Trump said. “I haven’t heard this, but I can only tell you this: Hillary Clinton—her husband got money, she got money, she paid money, why doesn’t somebody talk about that?”
Trump has denied having ties with Russia during his campaign, and frequently describes Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian influence on the 2016 election as a “witch hunt.”
“Look, they’ve been looking for two years about collusion. There’s no collusion,” he said.
Trump also said he was not concerned about Democrats impeaching him over two campaign finance law violations in the wake of guilty pleas from Cohen.
“It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,” Trump said. “I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened.”
Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws in August after paying off two women—adult film actress Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal—to keep stories about their alleged affairs with Trump a secret during the 2016 election campaign.
In November, Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate project that Trump pursued while he was attempting to secure the GOP nomination.
“Michael Cohen is a lawyer. I assume he would know what he’s doing,” Trump said when asked if he ever discussed campaign finance laws with Cohen when he was his attorney.
He added: “Number one, it wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?”
Donald Trump speaks after signing H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018 in the Oval Office at the White House on December 11. The president dismissed the meetings his associates had with Russians as “peanut stuff.”Mark Wilson/Getty Images