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Trump Says He Discussed Russia ‘Hoax’ With Putin in Phone Call

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 5/7/2020 Jennifer Jacobs and Josh Wingrove

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he discussed the U.S. investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, calling the probe a “hoax.”

During a meeting with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Trump told reporters that Putin had called him to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Trump said he offered American-made ventilators to combat Russia’s coronavirus outbreak.

Then he remarked that “the Russia hoax” had made it difficult for the U.S. and Russia to deal with each other, “and we discussed that.”

“I said, ‘You know, it’s a very appropriate time, because things are falling out now and coming in line showing what a hoax this whole investigation was, it was a total disgrace, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a lot of things happen over the next number of weeks,”’ Trump said. “This is just one piece of a very dishonest puzzle.”

Later Thursday, the Department of Justice announced it would drop criminal charges against Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Trump has waged a public campaign against the charges since court documents were unsealed last month showing that FBI agents discussed whether they should try to catch Flynn in a lie before interviewing him in the Russia investigation.

Justice Department Drops Charges Against Ex-Trump Aide Flynn

Flynn admitted lying to federal investigators about his conversations before Trump took office with Sergey Kislyak, the then-Russian ambassador to the U.S. He sought to withdraw his guilty plea in January.

Earlier, a White House statement on the call between the two leaders said they reflected on Victory in Europe day and discussed the pandemic and arms control.

“The two leaders also covered other bilateral and global issues,” the statement said.

The statement didn’t mention the Russia investigation, which determined that Putin associates illegally tried to influence the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf by mounting covert U.S. social media campaigns and other activities.

Trump has repeatedly rejected the findings of the U.S. intelligence community, including in Putin’s company. Trump suffered criticism from U.S. lawmakers in both parties after a Helsinki, Finland news conference with Putin in 2018 in which he said he accepted the Russian leader’s denial that the Kremlin had sought to interfere in his election.

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