Trump dodges ques­tion on whether he worked for Rus­sia

The News & Observer - - Nation & World - BY DAR­LENE SUPERVILLE

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump avoided di­rectly an­swer­ing when asked whether he cur­rently is or has ever worked for Rus­sia af­ter a pub­lished re­port said law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, con­cerned about his be­hav­ior af­ter he fired FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey in 2017, had be­gun in­ves­ti­gat­ing that pos­si­bil­ity.

Trump said it was the “most in­sult­ing” ques­tion he’d ever been asked.

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

Trump re­sponded to the story Satur­day dur­ing a tele­phone in­ter­view broad­cast on Fox News Chan­nel af­ter host Jea­nine Pirro, a per­sonal friend, asked the Rus­sia ques­tion.

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

Trump never an­swered Pirro di­rectly, but 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.”

Trump’s claim was dis­puted by Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee. He said al­most all the sanc­tions on Rus­sia arose not in the White House but in Congress, due to con­cerns by mem­bers of both par­ties about Moscow’s ac­tions. Warner accused the White House of be­ing very slow to put in place the penal­ties.

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

Trump’s be­hav­ior in the days around Comey’s May 2017 fir­ing helped trig­ger the coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence part of the probe, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per.

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

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

Robert Mueller took over the investigation when he was ap­pointed spe­cial coun­sel soon af­ter Comey’s fir­ing. The over­all investigation is look­ing into Rus­sian elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence and whether Trump’s cam­paign co­or­di­nated with the Rus­sians, as well as pos­si­ble ob­struc­tion of jus­tice by Trump. The Times says it’s un­clear whether Mueller is still pur­su­ing the coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence an­gle.

Sen. Chris Coons, DDel., said the re­port “may well sug­gest what it was that helped start this investigation in the first place.” He and other Demo­cratic sen­a­tors said this re­port and oth­ers within the past week ques­tion­ing Trump’s be­hav­ior to­ward Rus­sia give new ur­gency to the need for the Mueller investigation to be al­lowed to run its course.

SARAH SILBIGER NYT

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump avoided di­rectly an­swer­ing when asked whether he cur­rently is or has ever worked for Rus­sia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.