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News Wrap: Trump tries to clarify tweet about Russia ‘helping’ him

In our news wrap Thursday, President Trump renewed attacks on Robert Mueller and his probe into Russian election interference. Trump also tweeted that he himself had nothing to do with Russia's “helping me get elected,” but later tried to walk back the reference to Russian involvement. Also, another bid to pass a disaster aid package was stalled in the House by a Republican congressman.

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  • William Brangham:

    President Trump is back on the attack against special counsel Robert Mueller and his now closed Russia investigation.

    Yesterday, Mueller explicitly said that his report didn't clear the president of obstruction of justice. Today, the president called Mueller a never-Trumper. He also tried to clarify an earlier tweet that said — quote — "I had nothing to do with Russia helping me get elected."

  • President Donald Trump:

    No, Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn't help me at all.

    It was all a hoax. And then they say, gee, he fought back. Isn't that terrible? He fought back. Of course I fight back, because it was a false accusation.

  • William Brangham:

    As for impeachment, the president called it a dirty, filthy, disgusting word.

    Separately, President Trump denied knowing of White House efforts to keep a warship out of his sight while he was in Japan this week. The USS John S. McCain is named in part for the late Arizona senator, who was a noted antagonist of the president's.

    Mr. Trump acknowledged their fraught relationship today, but he insisted — quote — "I would never do a thing like that."

    In Singapore, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he, too, was in the dark.

  • Patrick Shanahan:

    I never authorized, I never approved any action around the movement or activity regarding that ship. Furthermore, I would never dishonor the memory of a great American patriot like Senator McCain.

  • William Brangham:

    Shanahan also said he's asked for a formal investigation.

    The push to pass a disaster aid package in Congress has failed yet again. The $19 billion measure would help victims of hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Democrats tried again today to have the House of Representatives pass it by unanimous consent, but Republican Congressman John Rose of Tennessee blocked the action.

    Severe flooding plagued several states today, and threatened to burst through aging levees. The Arkansas River has hit record levels, and submerged parts of Fort Smith, Arkansas, near the Oklahoma border.

    The town's mayor today warned there may be worse to come.

  • George McGill:

    Let's be patient. This is a long, drawn-out process. As I moved about, I could feel that the fear that citizens felt is beginning to subside, when the numbers were given about the crest. The fear is beginning to subside, but the suffering is about to begin.

  • William Brangham:

    A series of storms dropped more than 20 inches of rain across the region over the past month.

    Prosecutors in Chicago today filed new sex-related charges against R&B singer R. Kelly. The Chicago Sun-Times reports the 11 felony counts include aggravated criminal sexual assault and apparently relate to one underage victim. These charges are the most serious yet against Kelly. Some carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

    A new lawsuit today charged that Mississippi's method of electing governors and other state officials is racist and should be thrown out. Currently, candidates must win the popular vote and carry a majority of state house districts. Mississippi adopted that rule in 1890 to suppress black voting power. No other state has a similar system.

    Former Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran has died. He first won his seat in 1978, becoming the first Republican elected to statewide office in Mississippi since Reconstruction. He went on to serve six terms before resigning last year. Thad Cochran was 81 years old.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 43 points to close at 25169. The Nasdaq rose 20, and the S&P 500 added five.

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