Trump says he ‘never worked for Russia’ in response to NYT report
President Donald Trump flatly denied Monday that he’s ever “worked for Russia” in response to a news report that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was an agent working on behalf of Russia against American interests.
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The story said law enforcement officials were concerned about his behavior after he fired FBI director James Comey.
“I never worked for Russia and you know that answer better than anybody,” Trump told reporters as he was leaving the White House for a trip to New Orleans. “Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace that you even asked that question because it’s a whole big fat hoax,” Trump said.
The New York Times first reported the story, including details about how officials were concerned about the president’s behavior before and after he fired Comey. The purpose of the FBI’s counterintelligence program, as defined by the agency itself, is to neutralize national security threats from foreign intelligence services and in the past, countering Russian efforts has been its primary mission.
Trump has long battled allegations of ties to Russia, the focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion during the 2016 election.
About the same time as Trump was talking Monday morning, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton re-tweeted a video of herself from her final presidential debates with Trump, in which she calls Trump a “puppet” for Russian President Vladimir Putin and he interrupts, “No puppet, no puppet — you’re the puppet.”
“Like I said: A puppet,” Clinton said Monday.
Trump went after the FBI Monday, attempting to cast the bureau and the alleged counterintelligence investigation as “dirty” and his move to fire Comey as “a great thing [he] did for [the] country.”
“The people doing that investigation were people that have been caught, that are known scoundrels there, I guess you could say are dirty cops,” Trump said, mentioning fired deputy director Andrew McCabe and former FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.
“Let me tell you something, when people see that, you have an angry country. Because the whole thing is a hoax. It is a big hoax and it is very bad for our country,” Trump said.
The first time Trump was publicly asked about the report — and whether he currently or ever had worked for Russia — on Saturday night by Fox News by host Jeanine Pirro, Trump denounced the story as “the most insulting” ever written about him but didn’t directly answer the question.