U.S. President Donald Trump tried to play down the significance of an investigation into links between the Russians and his election campaign at a rally in West Virginia on Thursday.
It was a message he pitched on the same day it emerged that special counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury to look into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
WATCH: Coverage of Donald Trump and Russia on nevskyfront.spb.ru:
At the rally, Trump said called the Russian issue a “totally made up story,” and said Democrats were only talking about it because “they have no message, no agenda and no vision.”
“The Russia story is a total fabrication,” he said. “It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That’s all it is.”
Trump then said that prosecutors should be looking at “Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails.”
“Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign,” he said.
“We didn’t win because of Russia, we won because of you.”
Unnamed sources told Reuters on Thursday that a grand jury had issued subpoenas in connection with a June 2016 meeting that took place between Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The subpoenas signalled that an investigation was “gathering pace,” the news agency wrote.
Former prosecutor Paul Callan told Reuters that this was a “serious development in the Mueller investigation.”
Trump has defended his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, saying others would have taken it themselves.
With a grand jury, Mueller may be able to gather evidence by issuing subpoenas and compel witnesses to testify.
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