Trump ‘in­sulted’ by Rus­sia claims, but still side­steps is­sue

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY DAR­LENE SU­PERVILLE

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has avoided giv­ing a di­rect an­swer when asked if he cur­rently is or has ever worked for Rus­sia.

A pub­lished re­port shows fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cials were so con­cerned about Mr Trump’s be­hav­iour after he fired James Comey from the FBI that they be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether he had been work­ing for the US ad­ver­sary against Amer­i­can in­ter­ests.

Mr Trump said it was the “most in­sult­ing” ques­tion he had ever been asked.

The New York Times re­port cited un­named for­mer law en­force­ment of­fi­cials and oth­ers fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mr Trump re­sponded to the re­port dur­ing an in­ter­view broad­cast on the Fox News Chan­nel after host Jea­nine Pirro, who is also a per­sonal friend of the Pres­i­dent, asked whether he is cur­rently or has ever worked for Rus­sia.

“I think it’s the most in­sult­ing thing I’ve ever been asked,” Mr Trump said. “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.”

Mr Trump never an­swered Ms Pirro’s ques­tion di­rectly, but went on to say 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.”

The New York Times re­ported that FBI agents and some top of­fi­cials be­came sus­pi­cious of Mr Trump’s ties to Rus­sia dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign but did not open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion at that time be­cause they were not sure how to ap­proach such a sen­si­tive and im­por­tant probe.

But Mr Trump’s be­hav­iour in the days around Mr Comey’s May 2017 fir­ing as FBI di­rec­tor, specif­i­cally two in­stances in which he seemed to tie Mr Comey’s oust­ing to the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, helped trig­ger the counter-in­tel­li­gence part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per.

In the in­quiry, in­ves­ti­ga­tors sought to eval­u­ate whether Mr Trump was a po­ten­tial threat to na­tional se­cu­rity. They also sought to de­ter­mine whether Mr Trump was work­ing for Rus­sia or had un­in­ten­tion­ally been in­flu­enced by Moscow.

Mr Trump tweeted that the re­port showed the FBI “opened up an in­ves­ti­ga­tion on me, for no rea­son & with no proof ” after he had fired Mr Comey.

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