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President claims ‘the whole Russian thing’ is a ‘ruse’

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

In response to questions about reports that members of his campaign staff had contact with Russian officials during the election, President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the controversy is a “ruse.”

During a wide-ranging press conference, Trump also addressed his decision to ask for the resignation of his national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn reportedly misled administration officials about discussions he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office.

According to a copy of his resignation letter obtained by CNN, Flynn acknowledged that he gave Vice President Mike Pence “incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.”

Trump also defended Flynn, saying he doesn't think Flynn acted improperly by speaking to the Russian ambassador about former President Barack Obama’s sanctions against the country while he was still in office.

"I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him if he didn't do it," Trump said.

It was his incomplete briefing of Pence, Trump said, that led him to ask for Flynn’s resignation.

TheBlaze previously reported that intelligence officials have said that Trump campaign staffers exchanged information with the Russian government.

Trump said the controversy about his campaign staff speaking to Russian officials is a “ruse.”

“The whole Russian thing, that's a ruse,” Trump said. “It’s a ruse. And by the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that. Now, tomorrow you’ll say, ‘Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.’ It’s not terrible, it’s good.”

Trump denied the reports, saying that "nobody that I know of" on his campaign staff talked to Russian officials during his campaign.

Asked about a series of recent provocations by the Russian military — a Russian spy ship was seen off the coast of Connecticut, the country deployed a cruise missile that may violate a treaty and Russian a aircraft buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea — Trump called the incidents “not good.”

“If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that's a good thing, not a bad thing," Trump said, adding that he would not address what actions he would take in response to Russia’s provocations.

Trump also lashed out at his former rival Hillary Clinton’s attempt at a “Russian reset" in 2009.

"Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks?" Trump said. "[Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov] looked at her like, 'What the hell is she doing with that cheap plastic button?'"

"Hillary Clinton, that was a reset, remember it said 'reset?'" he added. "Now if I do that, ooh, I'm a bad guy."

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