President Donald Trump held a rally before a raucous West Virginia crowd on August 3, accompanied by the state's Democratic governor, who announced that he will switch to the Republican Party. During the rally, Trump completely denied that he had any involvement with Russia during the election.
The crowd cheered when Governor Jim Justice announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party, reports The New York Times.
Justice, a billionaire coal and real estate magnate, refused to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016.
He said he would officially change his voter registration on August 4. "I will tell you with lots of prayers and lots of thinking, today I will tell you as West Virginians that I can't help you anymore being a Democrat governor," he said. He told the crowd that his deceased mother would approve, imagining that she would tell him: "Jimmy, it's about damn time you came to your senses."
After making the announcement, he hugged the president, saying "This man is a good man. He's got a backbone, he's got real ideas. He cares about us in West Virginia." He defended the president over the Russia investigation, saying, "Have we not heard enough about the Russians?"
The governor praised President Trump and his family, reports the Daily Mail. "I've hunted with Don Jr. Eric has changed my tire. And Ivanka and Jared are so good, it's off the chart." He declared that the president "has made us common every day Americans, feel good about who we are."
Trump, in turn, praised the governor: "Having Big Jim as a Republican is such an honor," he said. "Fantastic man, fantastic guy."
"We are putting our coal miners back to work. We have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal." as quoted by the Daily Mail.
He said Justice's decision to switch parties proves that "our agenda rises above left or right. It's an agenda for all of the people, especially for the tens of millions of forgotten Americans. We will make sure they are never ignored again."
Trump then followed up on the governor's reference to Russia. Earlier in the day, The New York Times reported that a grand jury had been impaneled and subpoenas issued by Robert S. Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating whether any Trump associates colluded with the Russian government in its attempts to disrupt the election.
"The Russia story is a total fabrication," Trump insisted. "An excuse for the greatest loss in the history of politics," referring to his victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
"It makes them feel better when they have nothing else talk about. What the prosecutors should be looking at are Hillary Clinton's 33,000 deleted emails. They can't beat us at the voting booth so they are trying to cheat you out of the future that you want with a fake story that is demeaning to our country."
The crowd responded with chants of "lock her up."