Trump’s weekend: new Russian Federation questions, shutdown irritants

President Donald Trump listens as he leads a roundtable discussion on border security with local leaders Friday Jan. 11 2019 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington
Jacquelyn Martin Associated Press President Trump took part in a discussion on border security with local leaders on Friday at the White House

15 January, 2019

A member of the White House press corps asked the President about the New York Times report that the FBI launched a counter-intelligence investigation due to concerns that Trump was working with Vladimir Putin and putting national security at risk.

"I never worked for Russia", Trump said.

"If you ask the folks in Russian Federation, I've been tougher on Russian Federation than anybody else, any other. probably any other president, period, but certainly the last three or four presidents", he said.

The Republican president renewed those charges on Monday, saying the officials who initiated the FBI investigation were "known scoundrels" and calling Comey a "bad cop".

Mr. Trump spent the snowy weekend in Washington lashing out on Twitter and Fox News against Democrats, and over explosive reports in the Washington Post and New York Times raising further questions about his relationship with the Kremlin.

It's not acceptable how little information many in the administration or in Congress have about what Trump and Putin discussed in Helsinki, Engel said.

According to Trump, "the FBI was in complete turmoil. because of Comey's poor leadership" and the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private server to send some government emails.

"Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security", Baker said.

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Also this weekend, the Washington Post reported that Trump "has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide details of his conversations" with Putin from members of his own administration - "including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials".

Trump has been trying to play up his presence at the White House during the standoff as a sign that it's Democrats who won't negotiate a deal.

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn't heard anything, apparently "they found nothing". "I mean Rosenstein, Comey, Mueller, McCabe, the whole crowd and they were out to get this president no matter what".

Though the investigation was opened, Strzok, who led the FBI's Russian Federation investigation, appeared to doubt whether Trump or the campaign colluded with Russian Federation.

A former senior administration official said a number of top figures in the administration sought in the hours and days after the meeting to find out details of what Trump and Putin had discussed.

"But on the central question of did Donald Trump or anybody in his campaign coordinate or collude with the Russians in their effort to meddle in the 2016 campaign, we have seen zero evidence of that".

"You don't need me and McCarthy to make it", Dershowitz said. "I don't know, maybe they're celebrating the shutdown", Trump said.

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