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President Trump tells NBC News: 'We are a very divided country'

  • "Republicans are very much behind me," Trump said.
  • "Anybody that becomes president of the United States has to every once in a while say that's really amazing."
  • "I have nothing to do with Russia. I have no investments in Russia. None whatsoever."
NBC's Lester Holt interviews Donald Trump on May 11, 2017.
NBC
NBC's Lester Holt interviews Donald Trump on May 11, 2017.

President Donald Trump acknowledged that "we have a very divided country" when asked during an exclusive interview with NBC News whether the legitimacy of his presidency was under attack.

But "Republicans are very much behind me," Trump added in a segment of the interview that aired Friday on NBC's "TODAY" show. "I''m helping people today."

He also sought to justify his firing of FBI Director James Comey earlier this week, and he asserted he "has nothing to do with Russia."

During the interview with NBC's Lester Holt, Trump described a moment during the White House celebration last week of the passage of the Republican bill to replace Obamacare. During the Rose Garden event, he recalled, he turned around to a group of Republican members of Congress were standing behind him and seemed to express surprise that he actually was president.

"I think everybody does," Trump said. "I think when you become president it's very special — when you're in the White House it's very special."

"I had all my Republican friends — who have frankly been in politics all their lives and have done a great job. We had congressmen and some senators," Trump said of the event.

"I looked around and said, 'Sorry folks can you believe it's me?'" the president recalled. "And the truth is that — I think that anybody that becomes president of the United States has to every once in a while say that's really amazing, it's an incredible feeling and it's a great feeling."

Trump told Holt in the White House interview that although there is divisiveness in the United States over his presidency, Republicans "love what we're doing on health care."

"Obamacare is dead it's a disaster it's a complete disaster," Trump said.

Trump was asked whether he, his family or associates had investments or loans from Russian individuals or institutions.

"I just sent a letter to [South Carolina Republican] Sen. Lindsey Graham from one of the most prestigious law firms in the country — tremendous, highly rated law firm — that I have nothing to do with Russia. I have no investments in Russia. None whatsoever," Trump told Holt.

Trump's categorical answers come as the FBI and congressional committees investigate his presidential campaign's suspected contacts with Russia.

"I don't have property in Russia. A lot of people thought I owned office buildings in Moscow. I don't have property in Russia. And I'm ... in total compliance in every way," Trump said.

"Now, I have to tell you. I file documents, hundreds of pages worth of documents with the federal elections bureau. Everybody's seen them. I built a great company. But I'm not involved with Russia," Trump said.

"I have had dealings over the years where I sold a house to a very wealthy Russian many years ago. I had the Miss Universe pageant — which I owned for quite a while — I had it in Moscow a long time ago. But other than that I have nothing to do with Russia."

In a portion of the interview released Thursday, Trump called Comey a "showboat," and said there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia.

Trump also said he had asked Comey whether he was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia.

"I actually asked him" if I were under investigation, Trump said, noting that he spoke with Comey once over dinner and twice by phone.

"I said, if it's possible would you let me know, am I under investigation? He said, 'You are not under investigation.'"

"I know I'm not under investigation," Trump told Holt.

The president also said he supports a full investigation into suspected Russian interference in the U.S. election last year, saying he wants the probe to be done "absolutely properly."

It would be highly unusual for someone who might be the focus of an FBI probe to ask whether he was under investigation and to be directly told by the FBI director that he was not. Several legal experts told NBC News the president's action was improper.