Trump unloads on Russia investigation, libel laws and explosive new tell-all book during press conference

  • President Donald Trump railed against former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Michael Wolff, the author of an explosive new book about the inner workings of the White House.
  • Trump said Wolff did not know him at all, and that "Sloppy Steve" gave him access to the White House.
  • He also reiterated his past claim that there was "no collusion" with Russia and added that everything he did was "100% proper."
  • Trump then accused former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of colluding with the Russians.

President Donald Trump unloaded on the Russia investigation and Michael Wolff, the author of an explosive new tell-all book during a press conference with reporters at Camp David on Saturday.

In the book, former White House chief strategist and head of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, is quoted eviscerating Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., his daughter Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. 

During the press conference, Trump called the book a "work of fiction" and said it was a "disgrace" that Wolff could "do something like this."

"Libel laws are very weak in this country," Trump said. "If they were stronger, hopefully, you would not have something like that happen."

He added that Wolff did not know him at all and did not interview him, though he then said Wolff interviewed him once "a long time ago" for a magazine story. 

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President Trump and Republicans attend retreat at Camp David
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President Trump and Republicans attend retreat at Camp David
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after the Congressional Republican Leadership retreat at Camp David, Maryland, U.S., January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives with members of the government and Republican leaders to speak to the media following the Congressional Republican Leadership retreat at Camp David, Maryland, U.S., January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway walks in ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump after the Congressional Republican Leadership retreat at Camp David, Maryland, U.S., January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after the Congressional Republican Leadership retreat at Camp David, Maryland, U.S., January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after the Congressional Republican Leadership retreat at Camp David, Maryland, U.S., January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after the Congressional Republican Leadership retreat at Camp David, Maryland, U.S., January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump listens to Vice President Mike Pence speaking to the media after the Congressional Republican Leadership retreat at Camp David, Maryland, U.S., January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to speak to the media following the Congressional Republican Leadership retreat at Camp David, Maryland, U.S., January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump leaves after speaking to the media after the Congressional Republican Leadership retreat at Camp David, Maryland, U.S., January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
THURMONT, MD - JANUARY 6: (AFP OUT) Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks to the media after participating in meetings with President Donald Trump at Camp David on January 6, 2018 in Thurmont, Maryland. President Trump met with staff, members of his Cabinet and Republican members of Congress to discuss the Republican legislative agenda for 2018. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
THURMONT, MD - JANUARY 6: (AFP OUT) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after participating in meetings with President Donald Trump at Camp David on January 6, 2018 in Thurmont, Maryland. President Trump met with staff, members of his Cabinet and Republican members of Congress to discuss the Republican legislative agenda for 2018. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
THURMONT, MD - JANUARY 6: (AFP OUT) U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens as Republicans take turns speaking to the media at Camp David on January 6, 2018 in Thurmont, Maryland. President Trump met with staff, members of his Cabinet and Republican members of Congress to discuss the Republican legislative agenda for 2018. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
THURMONT, MD - JANUARY 6: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press after holding meetings at Camp David on January 6, 2018 in Thurmont, Maryland. President Trump met with staff, members of his Cabinet and Republican members of Congress to discuss the Republican legislative agenda for 2018. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a retreat with Republican lawmakers at Camp David in Thurmont, Maryland, January 6, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump, alongside Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis (C) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L), speaks during a retreat with Republican lawmakers and members of his Cabinet at Camp David in Thurmont, Maryland, January 6, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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"I guess 'Sloppy Steve' [Bannon] brought him into the White House a lot," Trump said. "That's why 'Sloppy Steve' is looking for a job."

In a noteworthy exchange Friday during an interview with "Today" show host Savannah Guthrie, Wolff said every single person around Trump, including senior aides and family members, questioned his intelligence and fitness for office.

Trump defended his intelligence in a series of Saturday morning tweets, saying his "two greatest assets" were his "mental stability and being, like, really smart."

He added that he believed he was a "very stable genius."

Asked during the press conference why he tweeted about his mental stability, Trump replied, "Only because I went to the best colleges, or college. I went to a — I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars."

He continued, saying that he then pursued a television career and was a "tremendous success, as you probably have heard. Ran for president one time and won."

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Donald Trump and Steve Bannon
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Donald Trump and Steve Bannon

US President Donald Trump (L) congratulates Senior Counselor to the President Stephen Bannon during the swearing-in of senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), is joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, as he speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "Very early in the Trump administration, weekends were as busy as weekdays. On Trump's second Saturday the official schedule said he would be making private phone calls to a number of world leaders including Russia's Vladimir Putin. I arrived early and, before sitting down at my desk walked up to Press Secretary Sean Spicer's office. He, too, was just taking his coat off. I gingerly made the suggestion that previous administrations had sometimes allowed photos of such phone calls through the Oval Office windows on the colonnade. To my mild shock, he didn't even think about it twice. "We'll do it!" he said. In truth, I really only expected the Putin call, but we were outside the windows multiple times throughout the day as the calls went on."

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to chief strategist Steve Bannon during a swearing in ceremony for senior staff at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Trump advisers Steve Bannon (L) and Jared Kushner (R) listen as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with members of his Cabinet at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (C) and campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) listen to National Park Service Interpretive Park Ranger Caitlin Kostic (2nd R) on a brief visit to Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. October 22, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Donald Trump signs a memorandum to security services directing them to defeat the Islamic State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. Pictured with him are White House senior advisor Steve Bannon (L-R), National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Trump advisor Steve Bannon (L) watches as US President Donald Trump greets Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, before a policy and strategy forum with executives in the State Dining Room of the White House February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Senior Advisor Jared Kusher, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump arrive at the start of a meeting with Senate and House legislators, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, February 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers included in the meeting were Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA).

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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'No collusion' and 'no crime'

Reporters also touched on a recent New York Times report that said Trump asked White House counsel Don McGahn to convince Attorney General not to recuse himself from the FBI's Russia investigation last year. Sessions recused himself last March when it emerged that he had failed to disclose his contacts with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his Senate confirmation hearing in January 2017. 

Calling the Times story "way off," Trump said, "Everything I've done is 100% proper. That's what I do is I do things proper."

"Collusion now is dead," he added. "Because everybody found out after a year of study there has been absolutely no collusion."

He went back to a frequent target, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and accused her, as well as the Democratic National Committee, of colluding with Russia. 

When a reporter asked Trump to specify how the Times' story was "off," Trump said, "You'll find out. But the story was off."

"If [special counsel] Robert Mueller asks you to come and speak with his committee personally, are you committed still to doing that?" another reporter asked.

Trump reiterated that there was "no collusion" and "no crime." He also repeated another claim he's frequently mentioned in the past, saying that "everybody tells me I'm not under investigation."

Trump is a critical figure in several threads of Mueller's investigation, and he is the central subject in the obstruction-of-justice case Mueller is said to be building.

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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
June 7: The 2016 primary season essentially concludes, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive party nominees
June 9: Donald Trump Jr. — along with Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort — meets with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
June 9: Trump tweets about Clinton's missing 33,000 emails
July 18: Washington Post reports, on the first day of the GOP convention, that the Trump campaign changed the Republican platform to ensure that it didn't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces
July 21: GOP convention concludes with Trump giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination
July 22: WikiLeaks releases stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee
July 25: Democratic convention begins
July 27: In final news conference of his 2016 campaign, Trump asks Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing"
August 4: Obama CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia's interference. "[I] told him if you go down this road, it's going to have serious consequences, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for our ability to work with Russia on any issue, because it is an assault on our democracy," Brennan said on "Meet the Press" yesterday.
October 4: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says his organization will publish emails related to the 2016 campaign
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta's emails
October 7: Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence release a statement directly saying that Russia is interfering in the 2016 election
October 31: "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove," Trump says on the campaign trail
November 4: "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks," Trump says from Ohio.
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The case is based on Trump's decision to fire FBI director James Comey last May. The White House initially said Comey was fired because of the way he handled the bureau's probe into Clinton's use of a private email server.

But Trump later told NBC's Lester Holt that "this Russia thing" was a key factor in his decision. He also reportedly told two Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting one day after terminating Comey that the FBI director's firing had taken "great pressure" off of him. 

Trump said Saturday that he and the White House have been "very open" in cooperating with Mueller's team. "We could have done it two ways. We could have been very closed and it would have taken years. But you know, sort of, like, when you've done nothing wrong, let's be open and get it over with, because honestly, it's very, very bad for our country and it's making us look foolish."

He added that "this is a country that I don't want looking foolish, and it's not going to look foolish as long as I'm here. So we've been very open and we just want to get that over with."

NOW WATCH: Trump's family church explains why he refuses to accept failure

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SEE ALSO: Trump declares himself a 'stable genius' after book author says 100% of his team questions his mental state

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