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Trump denies ever working for Russia, blasts investigators

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions from the press as he departs the White House January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to travel to New Orleans today to address the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th annual convention. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday denied he ever worked for Russia against U.S. interests, addressing an extraordinary question that has haunted his presidency and shows no sign of going away.

Speaking from the South Lawn, Trump issued a flat denial: “I never worked for Russia.” He blasted former FBI and Justice Department officials and repeated his claim that the investigation into his ties to Moscow is a hoax.

Trump raised eyebrows over the weekend when he didn’t directly answer the Russia question in an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, a personal friend.

He was asked about a New York Times report that law enforcement officials began investigating, in 2017, whether Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against U.S. interests.

Trump said the question was “insulting,” but did not directly deny it.

Monday’s clear denial demonstrated the unprecedented pressure Trump faces as the special counsel’s Russia investigation shows possible signs of wrapping up. After two years in office, the president is still being questioned about whether he was compromised by Russian intelligence agencies and he is still struggling to answer clearly.

White House aides expressed regret over the weekend that the president did not more clearly and forcefully deny being a Russian agent on Saturday when asked by the usually friendly Fox News host, according to three White House aides and Republicans close to the White House. The three spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.

When Pirro asked if he had ever worked for Russia, Trump said it was “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”

“I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written, and if you read the article you’ll see that they found absolutely nothing,” he said.

Trump went on to assert that no president has taken a harder stance against Russia than he has.

“If you ask the folks in Russia, I’ve been tougher on Russia than anybody else, any other … probably any other president, period, but certainly the last three or four presidents,” he said.

On Monday, Trump also defended his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, a move that has drawn Mueller’s scrutiny. Trump called the Russia probe “a whole big fat hoax.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into Russian election interference and whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Russians. He also is investigating possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

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  • Bob

    The news media will not accept the truth as an answer to the Russian collution question. They keep asking the same questions hoping for a different answer.

  • steve

    The accusers of Trump’s “collusion” haven’t one damn iota of any evidence to prove their claims. None. When it comes to sucking up to the Russians, I’d dearly love to see Trump asking the nation if the following words suggest anything….”Tell Vladimir that after I’m reelected I’ll have more flexibility.”. That smacks more of collusion than anything Trump has ever done. And when confronted with fact, watch his accusers turn into real defensive deniers as the always do.

  • Astute Observation

    Not one iota? Really? What alternative reality do you Trump-loving sycophants live in? Your best, and most common, reply to all of Mueller’s criminal indictments/convictions is “but, but, Hillary” or “but, but Obama…” Your weak rebuttals are not only pedantic but they wholely deflect and dismiss the issue at hand: Donald J Trump and a great majority of his asssociates are traitorous, grifting criminals.

  • Astute Observation

    Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was recently outed in court documents to have given confidential “polling data with Konstantin V. Kilimnik, a Russian businessman and former military interpreter who the FBI says has “ties to a Russian intelligence service.”

    And then there’s this from WaPO:

    “President Donald Trump was so intent on keeping his chats with Russian Vladimir Putin secret, he once made his interpreter turn over his notes and promise to never discuss them, current and former US officials have told The Washington Post.

    There remains no detailed rec­ord, even in classified files, of face-to-face meetings between Mr Trump and Putin from five locations over the past two years, the report said.”

    Yes, these are the actions of a totally innocent man with nothing to hide. Not one iota of evidence, right?

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