Trump: I had no part in 'Russia helping me to get elected’

President Trump has long downplayed Russian interference in the 2016 election, often claiming it was an “excuse” invented by Democrats to explain how they lost an election they were favored to win.

But on Thursday, Trump briefly admitted Moscow’s involvement aided in his victory.

“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” the president tweeted. “And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”

“It was a crime that didn’t exist,” Trump continued. “So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media, say he fought back against this phony crime that didn’t exist, this horrendous false accusation, and he shouldn’t fight back, he should just sit back and take it. Could this be Obstruction? No, Mueller didn’t find Obstruction either. Presidential Harassment!”

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Former FBI director Robert Mueller attends the ceremonial swearing-in of FBI Director James Comey at the FBI Headquarters October 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey was officially sworn in as director of FBI on September 4 to succeed Mueller who had served as director for 12 years. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama applauds outgoing Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) director Robert Mueller (L) in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on June 21, 2013 as he nominates Jim Comey to be the next FBI director. Comey, a deputy attorney general under George W. Bush, would replace Mueller, who is stepping down from the agency he has led since the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller applauds key staff members during a farewell ceremony held for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW HEADSHOT)
391489 03: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a conference as he stands with Justice Department veteran Robert Mueller, left, who he has nominated to head the FBI, and Attorney General John Ashcroft July 5, 2001 the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller stands for the national anthem during a farewell ceremony for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) reacts to a standing ovation from the audience, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole (C) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (R) during Mueller's farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
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FILE PHOTO -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (R) and FBI Director Robert Mueller speak about possible terrorist threats against the United States, in Washington, May 26, 2004. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
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399994 01: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller greets American forces on the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of the Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn, the president backed off his assertion that Moscow’s meddling helped him win.

“No, Russia did not get me elected,” Trump said. “You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected.”

“Russia didn’t help me at all,” he continued. "Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side.”

The president’s comments came a day after special counsel Robert Mueller issued his first public statement on his investigation into the Russian election interference.

His report extensively documented the Kremlin's effort's to influence the general election in Trump's favor, most notably by releasing troves of emails — some of which were politically damaging — from hacked Democratic accounts. The special counsel’s report concluded that the Russian government interfered in the election “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” and his office indicted 34 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges ranging from computer hacking to conspiracy and financial crimes.

In his report, Mueller found no conspiracy between Russia and Trump’s campaign. But he chronicled at least 10 episodes of efforts by Trump or his staff to obstruct the federal probe. Although Mueller declined to charge Trump with obstruction of justice, he explicitly refused to exonerate the president.

“If we had had confidence that the president had clearly not committed a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said, adding: “Charging the president with a crime is not an option we could consider.”

Mueller’s statement, which he said would be his final word on the matter, immediately ramped up pressure on congressional Democrats on congressional Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has resisted calls from some members of her party for Trump’s impeachment in the wake of Mueller’s report, did not rule it out. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said “all options are on the table.”

Trump told reporters he couldn’t fathom his own impeachment.

“It’s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word,” he said. “It’s a giant presidential harassment.”

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