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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Here are highlights of the Reuters Oval Office interview with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
ON WHETHER HE WAS AWARE HIS SON DONALD TRUMP JR. WAS MEETING WITH A RUSSIAN LAWYER
"No. That I didn’t know. Until a couple of days ago, when I heard about this. No I didn’t know about that."
ON WHETHER HE WISHED HE HAD KNOWN HIS SON WAS HAVING THE MEETING
"Look - that campaign ... I actually always thought I’d win, to be honest with you, because I’ve been winning my whole life, to be honest with you, but we started a campaign as a non-politician, and many people were sceptical. Some weren’t, some people who know me weren’t ... but many were sceptical. And it was a wild time. And we would meet with many people."
"That same meeting: a person comes in, sits, leaves, quickly. It was a 20-minute meeting, I guess, from what I’m hearing. Many people, and many political pros, said everybody would do that. If you got a call and said, 'Listen I have information on Hillary and the DNC,' or whatever it was they said, most people are going to take that meeting, I think."
“I think many people would have held that meeting."
“And you have to understand, when that took place, this was before Russia fever. There was no Russia fever back then, that was at the beginning of the campaign, more or less. There was no Russia fever."
“Most of the phoney politicians who are Democrats who I watched over the last couple of days – most of those phonies that act holier-than-thou, if the same thing happened to them, they would have taken that meeting in a heartbeat."
"First question - first 20, 25 minutes - I said, ‘Did you do it?’ He said, ‘No, I did not, absolutely not.’ I then asked him a second time, in a totally different way. He said, ‘Absolutely not.’"
“Somebody did say if he did do it, you wouldn’t have found out about it. Which is a very interesting point.”
"Look: Something happened and we have to find out what it is, because we can’t allow a thing like that to happen to our election process. So something happened, and we have to find out what it is."
“We have to find out and get to the bottom of what’s going on, because we can’t have even the slightest suspicion about our election process.”
“Now, everybody agrees that there was no impact on the votes in this election, which is very important to say, but we have to make sure that nothing could ever happen to our election process."
"Do I feel I can trust anybody, OK? I’m a very suspicious person. I am not a person that goes around trusting lots of people. But he’s the leader of Russia. It is the second most powerful nuclear power on earth. I am the leader of the United States. I love my country. He loves his country. He’s for Russia. President Xi – I had a long meeting with him too, 2-1/2 hours, great relationship. He’s for China, I’m for the United States. They’re for their countries. But I do things the way I do things, and it’s just worked out."
"But we had a very productive meeting. Including the fact that I think we have a good shot at piece by piece getting Syria to stop fighting. Ultimately Ukraine. And other things, including the destruction of terrorists as we know them."
"So I’m sitting with Putin, and we had a very good - we were there two hours and 15 minutes - we had a very good meeting. One of the things brought up was a ceasefire. I said, 'We’ve got to solve this problem in Syria. And Ukraine by the way.' And what happened is we sat down and we worked out a ceasefire, which is by the way, as of 20 minutes ago, totally holding, and that’s four days. Four days doesn’t sound like a lot, but they’ve never had a ceasefire that lasted at all. That’s because Putin told them, as opposed to somebody that nobody ever heard of. Putin and I agreed to it, and we have a four-day ceasefire. That means many lives have already been saved because of four days. But it’s going to go on for a while, and things are going to go better."
"I was very tough with President Putin. We have a very important relationship. It’s going to be a relationship where lots of lives could be saved, like as an example with the ceasefire, which nobody else could have gotten but me."
"I campaigned on strong military, strong borders, and low oil prices."
"Look what I’ve done – oil prices have been driven down. We’re sending LNG to Poland, massive shipments to Poland. That’s not what Putin wants. And for the military, we’ve got $56 billion more of equipment than anybody ever thought of, in the last budget. Putin doesn’t want that – so why would Putin want me?”
“It’s really the one question I wish I would have asked Putin: Were you actually supporting me?"
"I’m very big on energy, and that’s not good for Russia, because Russia makes its money with energy. That drives the price of energy down. I also am very strong on the military, very, very strong on the military. I’m also very strong on cyber."
"I would bet that inwardly Putin would have been against me.”
"The mood in the White House is fantastic."
"We have done more in five months than practically any president in history."
"If you look at Iraq and if you look at Syria and you see the progress we’ve made with ISIS, it’s been almost complete."
"The White House is functioning beautifully. The stock market has hit a new high. Job numbers are the best they’ve been in 16 years. We have a Supreme Court judge already confirmed. Energy is doing levels that we’ve never done before. Our military is doing well. We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS, which Obama wasn’t. There’s not a thing that we’re not doing well in. The White House is functioning beautifully, despite the hoax made up by the Democrats."
“The problem is, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything. This isn’t a question of defence. I didn’t do anything. I had no relationship to Russia. So I said, what can the legal team do?"
"The only frustration is that this Russia story is a hoax made up by the Democrats as an excuse for losing an election that they should have won because it’s almost impossible for a Republican to win the Electoral College.”
"There was zero coordination. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. There’s no coordination, this was a hoax, this was made up by the Democrats."
"This is the greatest con job in history, where a party sits down the day after they got their ass kicked, and they say, 'Huh, what’s our excuse?'”
"It just continues and continues, and honestly it’s a disgrace, and it’s very bad for our country. And the Russians must be laughing, because this narrative is so bad for us as a country."
Reporting by Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Peter Cooney