Trump de­nies hid­ing de­tails of Putin talks

The Straits Times - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON • US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has re­jected a Wash­ing­ton Post re­port that he has re­fused to share de­tails of his con­ver­sa­tions with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin with top US gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

Mr Trump, in a tele­phone in­ter­view late last Satur­day with Fox News, dis­missed as “ridicu­lous” the Post story that al­leged he went to great lengths to hide the con­tent of his talks with Mr Putin, even con­fis­cat­ing the notes of his in­ter­preter and or­der­ing that per­son to not dis­cuss what was said.

Mr Trump said he had “a great con­ver­sa­tion” with Mr Putin in Helsinki in July last year. When asked why not re­lease de­tails of the nearly two-hour con­ver­sa­tion, Mr Trump said: “I would, I don’t care.

“I mean, I had a con­ver­sa­tion like ev­ery pres­i­dent does... We were talk­ing about Is­rael and se­cur­ing Is­rael and lots of other things... I’m not keep­ing any­thing un­der wraps, I couldn’t care less.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Post, there is no de­tailed record of Mr Trump’s per­sonal talks with Mr Putin at five lo­ca­tions over the past two years.

Mr Trump also told Fox, when asked about Mr Putin, that “no col­lu­sion” has been found be­tween his 2016 cam­paign and Rus­sia.

Mr Trump also took aim at an ear­lier story in The New York Times stat­ing that the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (FBI) launched a pre­vi­ously undis­closed in­ves­ti­ga­tion to de­ter­mine whether he posed a na­tional se­cu­rity threat at the same time that it opened a crim­i­nal probe into pos­si­ble ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.

The FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion was later folded into the broader probe by Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller into Rus­sia’s med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion and pos­si­ble col­lab­o­ra­tion by the Trump cam­paign.

Fox asked if he had ever worked for Rus­sia. “I think it’s the most in­sult­ing thing I’ve ever been asked,” Mr Trump said, with­out di­rectly an­swer­ing the ques­tion.

He then slammed the Times story as “the most in­sult­ing ar­ti­cle ever writ­ten and if you read the ar­ti­cle, you’d see that they found ab­so­lutely noth­ing”.

No ev­i­dence has pub­licly emerged that Mr Trump was se­cretly in con­tact with or took di­rec­tion from Rus­sian of­fi­cials, the Times said.

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Pro­test­ers out­side of the White House dur­ing the par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down last Satur­day. Ac­cord­ing to a poll, more Amer­i­cans, by a wide mar­gin, blame Mr Trump and Repub­li­cans in Con­gress than con­gres­sional Democrats for the record-break­ing gov­ern­ment shut­down.

PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mr Ju­lian Cas­tro, of­ten called a ris­ing star in the Demo­cratic Party, is the third can­di­date with a Latino back­ground to seek the pres­i­dency in re­cent years.

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