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Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump called the Justice Department's Russia investigation "a phony witch hunt" at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday, suggesting the probes are "trying to take me out with bullshit."

The big picture: Trump's comments come as Democrats ramp up their probes and the Mueller investigation is reportedly winding down. The investigation has already resulted in 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas and 4 prison sentences.

Driving the news: Trump dedicated a sizable chunk of his CPAC speech to ongoing tariff negotiations with China, disparaging trade between the 2 countries after announcing this week that the U.S. will not increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, as was previously suggested. In the latter stretch of his speech, he announced plans to sign an executive order that will require colleges and universities to "support free speech if they want federal research dollars."

Catch up quick: Trump also gave a mini history lesson about the Great Tariff Debate of 1888, ridiculed the House Intelligence committee's planned investigations into his finances, and scorned claims of his administration's collusion with Russia. He asked for his old friends to call him "Don," and sarcastically endorsed the Green New Deal (again).

"The Green New Deal, I encourage it, I think it's really something they should promote. ... No planes, no energy. When the wind stops blowing, that's the end of your electric. Darling, is the wind blowing today, I'd like to watch television."

More from his speech:

  • On California Gov. Gavin Newsom: "He called me up the other day, let's say four weeks ago. He said 'I just wanna tell you you're a great president, and you're one of the smartest people I've ever met.' That's what he said. Will he ever admit it? No, I doubt it."
  • On spending the holidays in the White House: "I figured it would look good. I was in the White House for a long time, months. If you've gotta have cabin fever, that's the place to do it."
  • On Syria: "And by the way, as of probably today or tomorrow, we will actually have 100% of the caliphate in Syria."
  • On Medicare for All bill: "Democrat lawmakers are now embracing socialism. Just this week, more than 100 Dems in Congress signed up for a socialist takeover of American healthcare." He said it "would lead to colossal tax increases, take away private coverage for over 180 million Americans."
  • More on the Green New Deal: "I think the auto industry isn't gonna do too well with this plan. ... I think maybe you're gonna see some bad stock prices. It would end air travel."
  • On the national emergency: "A lot of people talk about precedent. If we do this, the Democrats will use national emergency powers for something that we don't want. They're gonna do that anyway, folks."
  • On Ron DeSantis, the new governor of Florida: "Ron's been great to me on the witch hunt. He's been a defender of me against these phony charges of Russia."
  • On Otto Warmbier: “And I’m in such a horrible position, because in one way I have to negotiate. In the other way, I love Mr. and Mrs. Warmbier, and I love Otto."
  • On dealing with North Korea: "North Korea has an incredible, brilliant economic future if they make a deal. But they don't have any economic future if they have nuclear weapons."

Go deeper

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden meeting Quad amid own pivot toward Asia

Artists paint portraits of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Mumbai, India. Photo: Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

President Biden plans to meet this month with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in a virtual summit of the so-called Quad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By putting a Quad meeting on the president’s schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.