- During an interview that aired Saturday, President Donald Trump said it was “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked” when Fox News host Jeanine Pirro asked if he was a Russian agent.
- It came as Washington reacted to incendiary reports from The New York Times and the Washington Post on the nature of Trump’s relationship with Russia and its leadership.
- Trump on Monday denied that he had ever “worked for Russia” and called the fact that he was even asked the question a “disgrace.”
President Donald Trump on Monday said he “never worked for Russia” and said it was a “disgrace” he was even asked the question.
“I never worked for Russia and you know that answer better than anybody. I never worked for Russia,” Trump told reporters. “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. It’s just a hoax.”
Trump’s forceful denouncement of the question came after criticism stemming from his weekend interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, who asked him if he was working for the Russian government against US interests.
“Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia?” she said.
Trump did not directly answer the question with a “yes” or “no,” and in response said, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”
A bombshell New York Times report published last weekend claimed the FBI opened an investigation into whether Trump was a Russian agent after his controversial firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
In an apparent reference to the Times report during his interview with Pirro, 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.”
"I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked…the most insulting article I’ve ever had written & if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing."- @realDonaldTrump on NYT FBI report pic.twitter.com/cIB4Sk9ZA1
— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) January 13, 2019
Trump went on to reiterate his oft-repeated claim that no recent president has been tougher on Russia than him.
The Trump administration has taken significant steps to punish Russia for election interference at times, even as the president has repeatedly expressed skepticism as to whether the Kremlin truly did intervene in the 2016 presidential election.
Meanwhile, Trump’s amicable demeanor toward Russian President Vladimir Putin has amplified concerns about his relationship with Moscow and suspicions his campaign colluded with the Kremlin in 2016. The president has repeatedly denied the notion his campaign worked with the Russians.
The president was broadly criticized, in particular, after a July meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, in which he appeared to side with the Russian leader over the US intelligence community. Trump also made the controversial choice to meet with Putin privately at the time, with an interpreter as the only other American in the room.
The Washington Post over the weekend published a report alleging Trump has gone to “extraordinary lengths” to conceal details and reports of his conversations with Putin from senior officials in his administration. During his Fox News interview, Trump claimed “anybody” could have listened to his Helsinki meeting with Putin.
On Monday, Trump expanded on the subject and attempted to downplay its significance when asked if he’d be willing to share the interpreter’s notes from the Putin meeting.
“I just don’t know anything about it. I read it this morning. It’s a lot of fake news. That was a very good meeting. It was actually a very successful meeting … I just know nothing about it,” he said.
Trump added: “We talked about Israel, we talked about the pipeline that Germany is paying Russia a lot of money – I don’t think it’s appropriate. We talked about that. We talked about many subjects, but I have those meetings one-on-one with all leaders including the president of China, including prime minister of Japan, Abe. We have those meetings all the time. No big deal.”