Trump made the claim during a rally in the US state of Pennsylvania on Thursday night as he was speaking about the contentious meeting he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the finish capital of Helsinki last month and how unfairly the summit had been treated by the US media.
"In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with Putin, we discussed everything, and we got along really well. By the way, that's a good thing, not a bad thing, that's really good," Trump said to a round of applause from the cheering crowd at the rally.
“I’ll tell you what, Russia is very unhappy that Trump won, that I can tell you. But I got along great with Putin,” he said, while also adding that the country was being “hindered” by the Russia investigation, which he called a “hoax.”
In Helsinki, Trump accepted Putin’s “strong denial” about Russian interference in the US election over US intelligence officials who accuse Moscow of meddling in the election on Trump’s behalf, Presstv reported.
Facing severe backlash at home, Trump said he had misspoken and believed the US intelligence findings held Putin personally responsible for the alleged election interference.
Trump has repeatedly denied allegations that his campaign colluded with Moscow and has condemned the ongoing US federal investigations over the alleged meddling, drawing accusations from Democratic and Republican Party lawmakers alike that he is ignoring a threat to American democracy.
Additionally, senior intelligence and national security officials in the Trump administration have claimed that Russia is behind “pervasive and ongoing” attempts to influence upcoming US elections, a threat Trump has repeatedly dismissed and played down.
Trump once again hits back at media
During the Thursday rally, Trump admitted that he had little chance of pleasing the US media after the Helsinki summit and cited the expulsion of Russian diplomats as well as his scorn of a Russian gas pipeline to Germany as proof of his tough stance on Moscow.
"They wanted to see a boxing match… I said whatever happened to diplomacy?" he said, speaking of the media. "And let me tell you: If I did go up and start screaming they would have said: 'he was terrible', 'he was so rude', 'it was horrible', 'his performance was horrible.'"
Calling the press "fake, fake disgusting news" and casting journalists as his true political opponent, Trump asked, "Whatever happened to the free press? Whatever happened to honest reporting? They don't report it. They only make up stories."
"I was the one that let out 60 diplomats, I was the one that complained about the fact that Germany has been paying [Russia] billions of dollars for a ridiculous pipeline coming to Germany," Trump added, referring to the Nord Stream 2 project which would supply Germany with Russian gas through a pipeline running under the Baltic Sea.
After his election, Trump has repeatedly used the term “fake news” to cast doubt on critical media reports about his administration, often without providing any evidence to support his case.
As a candidate, Trump had pursued the same anti-media rhetoric threatening to "open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."