Trump evades question on federal probe

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday declined to commit to being interviewed by the special counsel investigating whether his campaign colluded with Russia to sway the 2016 election, backing off a promise he made last year to talk to Robert Mueller under oath.

"I'll speak to attorneys," Trump told reporters in the East Room during a news conference with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, when asked whether he would speak with Mueller without preconditions. "We'll see what happens."

The dodge was a marked change from June, when Trump defended his firing of FBI Director James Comey, denying that it was related to his handling of the Russia investigation, and said he would "100 percent" be willing to give a sworn statement to Mueller.

The president repeated his often-stated, false claim that lawmakers have said there was no collusion between him or his campaign and Russia, calling Mueller's probe and the ones being pursued by the Republican-led Congress a partisan "witch hunt" and a "Democrat hoax."

Trump's salvo punctuated an escalating war with congressional Democrats over the Russia investigations. On Wednesday morning, the president attacked Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for releasing a transcript that was highly critical of Trump, and he demanded that Republicans "finally take control" of the probes.

Senate Democrats released an extensive report on Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election, saying that it fit into a nearly two-decade pattern of meddling with governments around the world. They charged that the U.S. response to Russia's brazen attack has been hindered by Trump.

The report tracks Russian efforts in 19 countries, chronicling misinformation campaigns, the funding of far-right political causes and the manipulation of energy supplies long before 2016 in an attempt to glean lessons for U.S. officials considering how to counteract similar efforts here.

In total, the report offers more than 30 recommendations to safeguard the country's electoral process and to work with allies, primarily in Europe, to establish new standards to address these types of threats.

But the report begins by calling on Trump to "assert presidential leadership" to establish a governmentwide response to the Russian efforts.

"Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president," the report asserts.

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