Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Trump under fresh scrutiny over relationship with Putin

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
Melinda Barton | 14 January, 2019, 08:41

Trump made the comments in a telephone interview late on January 12 with Fox News, after The Washington Post reported that the US president "has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide details" of his conversations with Putin.

"My firing of James Comey was a great day for America", Trump claimed, describing the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director as "a Crooked Cop who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller".

In the Fox News interview, Trump questioned why the newspaper made such a "big deal" out of his discussions with Putin in Helsinki last summer. The inquiry reportedly sought to get to the bottom of whether Trump was hindering the safety of the nation and whether he was obstructing justice with the ouster, given that there is an ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

President Trump blasts the New York Times following their recent report that the FBI investigated if he was working on behalf of Russian Federation.

And, he added, "It handicaps the USA government - the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the president] - and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump".

Cruz was responding to a report by The New York Times which revealed that Trump's decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey resulted in a counterintelligence investigation into whether the president was working for the Russian government, either intentionally or otherwise.

When asked by Pirro on Saturday about the Times' report and whether he had ever worked for Russia, Trump said, "I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked". "Anyone could have listened to that meeting".

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that whether Trump ever worked on behalf of Moscow is "the defining question" of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's investigation. Trump took possession of his interpreter's notes after a 2017 meeting in Hamburg and instructed the linguist not to discuss the matter with other administration officials, the Post said, citing current and former USA officials.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times he had no knowledge of the counterintelligence inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn't heard anything, apparently "they found nothing". Afterward, Mr. Trump and Putin held a press conference in which the president said Putin had told him he had not meddled in the 2016 election.

Russian officials have repeatedly denied any such effort.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has defended the decision, saying the companies are undergoing a major restructuring to "sever Deripaska's control and significantly diminish his ownership".

Their statement follows Trump's comments in a Fox News Channel interview in which he alleges potential legal problems involving a Cohen relative and takes digs at Cohen's honesty and own legal woes. He saids Deripaska himself and any companies he controls remain under sanctions.

Opening an apparent counterintelligence investigation into the president raises questions about timing and the evidentiary basis.

And Trump's former presidential campaign chair, Paul Manafort, has been convicted in one case brought by Mueller and pleaded guilty in another, over financial crimes related to his work in Ukraine before the 2016 campaign, and for witness tampering.