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Trump says he's open to Iran talks without preconditions

Laura King, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco has taken the position that Democrats should keep looking into various alleged malfeasance by the president and his associates, but not commence a formal process. She and many senior Democratic leaders believe Trump would point to a likely acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate as proof he had done nothing wrong.

If impeachment proceedings were held, Trump said, "I think I win the election easier." But he insisted again that he had done nothing wrong, despite the special counsel's compilation of evidence that he may have obstructed justice.

Pressed by his interviewer as to whether he would bring up the subject of interference with Putin this week in Osaka, Japan, in light of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's finding of sweeping and systemic Russian efforts to influence the 2016 vote, Trump replied in an almost bantering fashion.

"I may," he said. "If you'd like me to do it, I'll do that."

The president was also asked about conditions under which child migrants, many from Central America, are being detained by U.S. immigration authorities. Reports in recent days have cited filthy conditions, a lack of access to basic supplies like soap and toothpaste, and young children being pressed into caring for infants separated from their parents.

"We're doing a fantastic job under the circumstances," he said, blaming the Obama administration for problems at the border.

Trump avoided answering questions about a U.N. investigation last week citing "credible evidence" that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would have been aware of plans to kill Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing opinion columnist.

Asked whether new scrutiny of the crown prince was warranted, Trump said the journalist's death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October had already been "heavily investigated."

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Without mentioning Khashoggi by name, he then quickly pivoted to the importance of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The Senate last week voted to block billions of dollars in weapons deals with the kingdom, but not by veto-proof majorities.

The president dismissed the notion that Khashoggi's killing should be a deterrent to financial dealings with the Saudis.

"I'm not like a fool that says, 'We don't want to do business with them,'" Trump told Todd.

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