‘No veil’ over US-Putin talks
– President Donald Trump has rejected a Washington Post report that he refused to share details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin with top US government officials.
Trump, in a phone interview on 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 Putin, confiscating his interpreter’s notes and ordering the person not to discuss what was said.
Trump said he had “a great conversation” with Putin in Helsinki in July 2018. Asked why he did not release details of it, he said: “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. It’s so ridiculous. Anybody could have listened to that meeting.”
According to the Post there is no detailed record of Trump’s personal talks with Putin at five locations over the past two years. The newspaper quotes unnamed current and former government officials as sources for the story.
Trump also told Fox when asked about Putin that “no collusion” has been found between his 2016 campaign and Russia, that he was a better candidate than Democrat Hillary Clinton, that the US economy “is the strongest in the world” and that The Washington Post is “basically the lobbyist for Amazon”, as both are owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Trump also took aim at an earlier story in The New York Times, stating the FBI launched a previously undisclosed counterintelligence 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. He slammed the Times story, saying: “If you read the article, you’d see they found absolutely nothing.”
Fox asked if he had ever worked for Russia. “It’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” he said, without answering the question. No evidence has publicly emerged that Trump was secretly in contact with or directed by Russian officials, the Times said.
Mueller has indicted 33 people and convicted some of Trump’s close associates. His ex-national security advisor, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying about his Moscow ties. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been sentenced for crimes including felony violations of campaign finance laws that prosecutors allege were carried out at Trump’s direction.
And his former campaign chairperson, Paul Manafort, was convicted in one case and pleaded guilty in another for financial crimes before the 2016 campaign and witness tampering. –