The Latest: Trump tells supporters ‘Russia hoax is dead’

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s rally in Michigan (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump has deemed the Russia investigation “the greatest hoax in the history of our country.”

He is also warning that those behind the probe will “be held accountable,” calling it an attempt “to tear up the fabric of our great democracy.”

Trump addressed a boisterous crowd at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Thursday night.

He said: “After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is dead. This was nothing more than a sinister effort to undermine our historic election victory and to sabotage the will of the American people.”

It was Trump’s first political event since Attorney General William Barr released a summary that said special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that his campaign “conspired or coordinated” with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.


8:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is trying to win over Michigan voters by saying the automobile industry “was decimated and going down” before he took office.

He says his administration has taken “historic and dramatic action to save the American auto industry and defend American auto workers right here in Michigan.”

Since Trump took office in 2017, auto manufacturing employment has risen by about 51,000 jobs to just over 1 million, according to the Labor Department. That’s a 5 percent increase over two years.

However, GM in November announced plans to shut four U.S. auto factories and one in Canada. Two of those plants are in Michigan.

The company said the moves are necessary to stay financially healthy as GM faces large capital expenditures to shift to electric and autonomous vehicles.


8:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is announcing that he will fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative after his administration proposed a 90 percent spending cut.

Trump is telling supporters at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that he will be providing $300 million for the cleanup program, framing the announcement as “breaking news.”

Trump says “it’s time,” though it’s unclear what he means.

Trump’s 2020 budget offered just $30 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which receives $300 million most years to remove toxic pollution, prevent algae blooms and species invasions and restore wildlife habitat.

Governors of five states had warned the move would cost jobs, hurt tourism and jeopardize public health.

Trump says he “supports the Great Lakes,” noting “they’re big” and “very deep.”


8 p.m.

President Donald Trump is using the case of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to rile supporters at a campaign rally in Michigan.

Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed that two men attacked him and yelled he was in “MAGA country.”

Prosecutors charged him with making a false police report, but abruptly dropped those charges this week, infuriating Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Trump says it’s “maybe the only time I’ve ever agreed with the mayor of Chicago.”

Trump calls the dropped charges “an embarrassment not only to Chicago. That is an embarrassment to our country, what took place there.”

Smollett has maintained his innocence and insisted the attack was real. Trump’s comments Thursday night are the second time he addressed the case in a matter of hours.


7:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is attacking Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California as he speaks to supporters in Michigan, calling the Democratic lawmaker a “little pencil-neck.”

The president is running through a list of grievances as he revels in his attorney general’s summary that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could not establish that President Donald Trump’s campaign “conspired or coordinated” with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Earlier in the event, his son Donald Trump Jr., issued similar insults incorporating Schiff’s last name.

Trump says the Democratic Party, the “fake news media” and the “deep state” failed to overturn the result of the 2016 election.

He says “many people were badly hurt by this scam, but more importantly our country was hurt.”


7:30 p.m.

A fired-up President Donald Trump is turning the end of the special counsel’s Russia investigation into a political weapon at a boisterous rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Trump is telling a crowd of thousands that: “After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over.”

He’s also calling the investigation “nothing more than a sinister effort” to undermine his 2016 election victory and “sabotage the will of the American people.”

The rally is Trump’s first political event since news broke that special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of his campaign colluding with Russians.

Mueller did not, however, come to a conclusion on obstruction of justice, leaving that up to his new attorney general.

Trump is calling the report “total exoneration” and “complete vindication” nonetheless.


7:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s supporters are taking a victory lap at his first political rally since the end of the Mueller investigation was announced.

The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is telling a crowd of thousands in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on America” is now “out the window.”

And he’s thanking his father’s supporters for sticking with him, saying “it’s not just our vindication, it’s your vindication” too.

The Justice Department announced Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia — but that Mueller did not reach a conclusion on obstruction.

Trump Jr. is also taking repeated shots at Trump antagonist Michael Avenatti, who was arrested this week, saying the lawyer went from “Avenatti 2020 to Avenatti 20-25. Maybe 50.”


5:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is turning his attention to 2020 now that the special counsel’s investigation is largely behind him.

Trump is heading to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a rally Thursday night — his first political event since the Justice Department said Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia’s election meddling.

As he left the White House, Trump said, “Michigan is booming.”

Loyal supporters started lining up in front of the Van Andel Arena on Wednesday evening, with some camping out in tents and sleeping bags overnight. By midafternoon, a crowd of thousands, many in red “Make America Great Again” hats, snaked for blocks around downtown Grand Rapids, just across the river from The Gerald Ford Presidential Museum.

Categories: National & International News