Trump: Even if there was collusion with Russia, 'it’s not a crime'

"If they don't help us with North Korea, then I can do what I've always said I want to do," the U.S. leader told the New York Times on Thursday.
All year, Trump has repeatedly warned Beijing of punitive tariffs that will come if China continues with what Washington deems unfair trade practices. "They have to help us much more," he told the Times.
The president has taken an aggressive stance toward China over the last 24 hours. Separately on Thursday, Trump tweeted that there will "never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem" if Beijing continues to aid Pyongyang.
Speaking to the Times at what was apparently an impromptu interview in the Trump International Golf Club in Florida, the U.S. leader also said he expects fair treatment from an ongoing inquiry about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"I think he's going to be fair," Trump said, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the probe, while repeatedly insisting that his associates did not collude with Moscow. Trump's comments come as other Republicans attempt to discredit the ongoing investigation.
The probe "makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position," the president said. "So the sooner it's worked out, the better it is for the country."
In a wide-ranging interview that also touched on healthcare and the defeat of Republican Roy S. Moore in Alabama, Trump also expressed confidence that he will clinch a second presidential term.
"Another reason that we're going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I'm not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes," he said.
President Trump in a new interview denied any collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, adding “even if there was, it’s not a crime.”
Speaking to The New York Times Thursday, Trump praised lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who has argued that Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey was not obstruction of justice because Trump has the right to fire the head of the bureau.
“I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion,” Trump told The Times. “And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion. And he has studied this thing very closely. I’ve seen him a number of times.”
“There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime,” he continued. “But there’s no collusion.”
Trump also blasted special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, saying it “makes the country look very bad.”
“It puts the country in a very bad position,” Trump said. “So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”
One of President Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, said earlier this month that it didn’t matter if members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia because “there is no crime of collusion.”
“For something to be a crime, there has to be a statute that you claim is being violated,” he told The New Yorker. “There is not a statute that refers to criminal collusion. There is no crime of collusion.”
Mueller's investigation has the authority to investigate any matters that come up in the course of investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, including possible obstruction of justice, which would be a crime.
President Trump predicted he will win the 2020 presidential race on Thursday due to a media shift in his favor, telling The New York Times that the national news media knows it will "tank" without him in the White House.
In an interview at his Florida golf course, Trump said that ratings for "all forms of media" will "tank" unless he is in the White House, which will provoke positive media coverage from organizations that have been critical of his policies in the past.
“Another reason that we’re going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes,” Trump told the Times.
“Without me, The New York Times will indeed be, not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times," the president added, using his favored derogatory nickname for the newspaper.
"They basically have to let me win," he predicted. "And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.”
Trump has frequently attacked the national news media while in office, and earlier Thursday asked his followers to help him award a "fake news trophy" for 2017.
“Americans are sick and tired of being lied to, insulted, and treated with outright condescension,” Trump's team wrote in a fundraising email to supporters Thursday. “That’s why President Trump is crowning the 2017 KING OF FAKE NEWS before the end of the year.
“There’s no point in pretending that some journalists are anything more than peddlers of falsehoods and liberal propaganda,” the email continues.
In November, the president suggested a contest among the networks, with the exception of Fox News, for the “Fake News Trophy.”
“The FAKE NEWS has utterly abandoned their duty to fairly report the news to the American people,” Thursday’s email reads. “Some journalists and liberal pundits think that Americans are too stupid to see through their amateur efforts to manipulate public opinion, but THEY’RE WRONG.”