US & Canada

Trump Russia claims: Mood in the White House is 'fantastic'

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Media captionPutin would prefer Clinton, President Trump tells the Christian Broadcasting Network

President Donald Trump says the mood in the White House is "fantastic" despite intense scrutiny of his campaign's alleged dealings with Russia.

He told Reuters the administration was "functioning beautifully".

The president also defended his son, who it has emerged met a Russian lawyer during the election campaign.

US media describe the White House as being in chaos over the story, with a Trump ally calling it a "Category 5 hurricane", the Washington Post said.

Donald Trump Jr met Natalia Veselnitskaya believing she had information that would damage his father's opponent Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump Jr told Fox News the meeting was "such a nothing", and "a wasted 20 minutes", but accepted he should have handled it differently.

Critics say he may have broken federal laws.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley has said he he is asking Mr Trump Jr to testify and will subpoena him if necessary.

US intelligence believe Moscow tried to sway the 2016 election in Mr Trump's favour and there are ongoing investigations into potential links between Mr Trump's campaign team and Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims.

President Trump's latest comments come at the start of his two-day trip to France. He is meeting French counterpart Emmanuel Macron ahead of Bastille Day on Friday, and celebrations will also commemorate the entry 100 years ago of US troops into World War One.

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Image caption Donald Trump and wife Melania will be guests of honour at France's Bastille Day festivities

Despite early tensions over climate change and trade, President Macron has made more of an effort recently to woo Mr Trump in a bid to boost France's influence on the world stage, says the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Paris.

Before he left Washington on Wednesday, President Trump sought to dispel media reports saying his administration was in crisis over alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russia, telling Reuters it was "a hoax made up by the Democrats".

He has previously suggested other agents may have meddled in the election, despite senior officials in his own administration blaming Russia.

Mr Trump said he had not been aware of his son's meeting with Ms Veselnitskaya until a couple of days ago.

Defending Donald Jr's decision to attend, he added: "Many people, and many political pros, said everybody would do that."

The president described the election campaign as "a wild time" when "we would meet with many people".

He refused to say that he regretted Donald Jr's actions, commenting: "Most of the phony politicians who are Democrats who I watched over the last couple of days... would have taken that meeting in a heartbeat."

In another interview, with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he also said he gets along "very well" with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

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Media caption"Less tweeting, more doing" - views from Trump heartland in Nebraska

His comments came days after his much-anticipated meeting with Mr Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg.

"People said, oh, they shouldn't get along. Well, who are the people saying that? I think we get along very, very well," he said.

Mr Trump cited the recent ceasefire in south-western Syria as an example of how co-operation with Mr Putin worked.

He said he was sure the Russians would have preferred to have Democrat Hillary Clinton in the White House.

Why? "If Hillary had won, our military would be decimated," he said.

"Our energy would be much more expensive. That's what Putin doesn't like about me. And that's why I say, why would he want me?"

He told Reuters he had asked Mr Putin flat-out if his government meddled in the US election.

"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."

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Media captionNewsbeat's Nick Rotherham asks: What's The Fuss?

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