Trump says it's smart to get along with Russia

Headline Goes Here

President Donald Trump speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. The Trump administration imposed sanctions on 13 people and a dozen companies in response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile test,...

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump says it makes sense for the U.S. to get along better with Russia because both are nuclear powers.

The president said during a lengthy White House news conference that the risks of conflict with the country are enormous.

Trump says, "We're a very powerful nuclear country, and so are they."

He says he's been briefed on the issue and adds, "Nuclear holocaust would be like no other."

Trump also says he won't forecast how he'll respond to provocations from Russia, North Korea or Iran. He says that's to maintain the element of surprise.

___

2:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is defending the rocky rollout of his travel ban, which judges have put on hold while they weigh its legality.

He calls the rollout "very smooth" and "perfect" but says it ran into "a bad court."

Trump says he wanted to do the same order but have it take effect after a month or so, but he says he was advised by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly not to do that because it would give people with bad intent time to flow into the country.

He says, "That's why we did it quickly." Waiting, he says, "would have wasted a lot of time, and maybe a lot of lives."

___

2 p.m.

Senate Democrats are asking the White House and law enforcement agencies to preserve all materials related to contacts between Russians and individuals associated with President Donald Trump.

The nine Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter Thursday to White House counsel Donald McGahn, and similar letters to the Justice Department and the FBI.

The letters ask for confirmation the White House, FBI and Justice Department have instructed their employees to preserve all materials related to any contacts Trump's administration, campaign, transition team - or anyone acting on their behalf - have had with Russian government officials or its associates.

___

2 p.m.

President Donald Trump is staunchly denying that he has any contact or connections with Russia.

Defending against accusations that he and certain members of his administration have close ties or contacts with the Russian government, Trump said, "I have nothing to do with Russia. I have no deals there. I don't know anything."

He says Michael Flynn, his national security adviser who was fired this week after revelations that he discussed sanctions with a Russian diplomat, was just doing his job by contacting Russia.

He says Flynn was asked to resign because he was dishonest about the details of the call with Vice President Mike Pence.

But he adds, "I didn't direct him (to make the call), but I would have directed him because that was his job."

___

1:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his ousted national security adviser was "just doing his job."

Trump is recounting why he asked Michael Flynn for his resignation.

The president says at a news conference that he was "not happy" with how information about Flynn's phone call to a Russian diplomat was relayed to Vice President Mike Pence.

But Trump says what Flynn did "wasn't wrong" - and after that, Trump is calling attention to what he says is "classified information that was given illegally."

Trump also says he's got someone good to replace Flynn, which made the decision to let him go easier.

___

1:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump claims his administration is running like "a fine-tuned machine."

But evidence points to the contrary.

Trump says at a White House news conference that he turns on the TV and opens the newspapers and sees "stories of chaos."

He says the truth is that "it is the exact opposite."

Trump says his administration "is running like a fine-tuned machine despite the fact that I can't get my Cabinet approved."

Trump's comments come amid a period of apparent dysfunction at the White House marked by leaks, division and several high-profile exits.

Just this week, his top national security aide and his pick for labor secretary were ousted.

-This story has been corrected to reflect in the item on Trump's comments about how his administration is running that the quote is 'the exact opposite,' not 'the exact opposition.

___

1:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his administration will release a new executive order on immigration next week to - in his words - "comprehensively protect our country."

Trump's original order restricted immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. It led to massive protests and was put on hold by a federal appeals court.

Trump tweeted "SEE YOU IN COURT!" after that ruling. His administration said it would immediately appeal - and either revise its original executive order or write a new one.

But nearly a week has gone by without action from the White House.

Trump isn't saying what the new order would do.

___

1:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he's chosen R. Alexander Acosta to be labor secretary - a day after Trump's first nominee, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, withdrew when he lost support among Republican senators.

Trump says at a White House news conference that he believes Acosta will be "tremendous" in the Cabinet job.

Acosta is dean of the Florida International University law school, has a law degree from Harvard and is a former member of the National Labor Relations Board.

Puzder pulled out after it was revealed that he once employed a housekeeper who was not authorized to work in the U.S.

___

1 p.m.

President Donald Trump has met with one of his staunchest campaign opponents, financier Paul Singer.

The president says at a news conference that Singer was at the White House on Thursday morning and is now "a very strong ally."

Singer is a New York hedge fund manager who spends millions of dollars on political candidates and causes. He had been a crucial player in the "Never Trump" movement that tried to stop Trump's Republican candidacy.

Here's what Trump thinks of Singer now: "He was a very strong opponent, and now he's a very strong ally."

Singer has been wooing Trump since shortly after his election. Trump isn't saying what the two discussed Thursday, and a Singer representative isn't immediately replying to a request for comment.

___

12:55 p.m.

The "press is out of control."

That's what President Donald Trump has said at a White House news conference.

He says the "level of dishonesty is out of control," and he says he'll take his message "straight to the people."

Trump's criticism of the media has grown amid reports that members of his administration had associations or communications with the Russian government.

Trump says there is "distortion," but he hopes everyone can get along.

But, he adds, "maybe we won't and that's OK."

___

12:41 p.m.

President Donald Trump is expected to name law school dean R. Alexander Acosta as his new choice for secretary of labor.

A White House official says the announcement will come the day after Trump's original pick, Andrew Puzder, withdrew after it became clear he lacked enough Republican votes for Senate confirmation. The official isn't authorized to comment on an announcement that has not been made and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Acosta has served on the National Labor Relations Board and as a federal prosecutor in Florida. Former President George W. Bush named him assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Puzder withdrew on the eve of his confirmation hearing because Republicans balked at an array of personal and professional issues. Puzder said he had employed - and belatedly paid taxes on - a housekeeper not authorized to work in the United States.

-This story has been corrected to reflect that the announcement has not been made.

___

12:30 p.m.

The Trump administration has asked the co-founder of a New York-based equity fund to lead a review of the intelligence community.

A senior White House official says Stephen Feinberg of Cerberus Capital Management has been asked to head a review of the various intelligence agencies and make recommendations on improvements.

The official was not authorized to discuss private personnel matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official says that Feinberg's role is not official until he completes an ethics review.

President Donald Trump has been highly critical of the intelligence community amid leaks that led to revelations about associations and conversations with Russia by some senior members of his staff.

Trump on Tuesday tweeted, "The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!"

___

11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump plans a news conference about midday Thursday to announce his nominee for labor secretary - "a star, great person," in his words.

Trump's first pick for the job, fast food chain executive Andy Puzder, withdrew from consideration after it was revealed he employed a housekeeper who wasn't authorized to work in the U.S.

Trump has blamed Senate Democrats for stalling or complicating the confirmation process of several of his Cabinet nominees.

___

9:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is accusing Democrats of fabricating news reports about Russia because "they lost the election."

The president tweeted Thursday, "The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306)," he wrote, citing the number of electoral votes he banked to win the general election.

He continues, "so they made up a story - RUSSIA. Fake news!"

Trump asked his national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, to resign this week when it was revealed that Flynn had discussed sanctions with a Russian diplomat before Trump took office.

U.S. intelligence agencies have also said the Russian government tampered with the presidential election in an attempt to help Trump win.

___

7:05 a.m.

A former Donald Trump associate and campaign official is blaming the bumpy start of the billionaire's presidency on mixed loyalties in the White House.

Roger Stone declined to name names in an appearance on NBC's "Today" show Thursday, but he discussed "a division between those who are loyal to the president and those who are loyal to the Republican National Committee."

When asked if he was referring to Reince Priebus (ryns PREE'-bus), who headed the RNC before joining Trump's team and becoming chief of staff in the West Wing, Stone demurred, indicating he didn't want to say who he was talking about.

Stone says, "The leaking that is coming out of the White House is a manifestation of the fact" that some of the people Trump hired "are not loyal."

He adds, "I think it's healthier to have people in the administration who share the president's vision of where he wants to take the country."

___

7:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump is warning "low-life leakers" of classified information that they will be caught.

In a pair of tweets Thursday, Trump says, "Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing nytimes (and others) must apologize!"

Trump writes, "the spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!"

Trump's national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, resigned at Trump's urging this week after a series of reports revealed Flynn held addressed the issue of sanctions with a Russian diplomat before Trump was in office.

On Wednesday, Trump said it was "really a sad thing that he was treated so badly."

He tweeted Wednesday that "classified information is illegally given out by 'intelligence' like candy. Very un-American!"

'

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)