Trump hits back at claims he was a Russian spy

President faces deepening pressure about his alleged links with Russia

US president Donald Trump and  Russia’s president Vladimir Putin at  the G20 summit in Buenos Aires,  November 30th, 2018. Photograph:  Juan Mabromata/ AFP

US president Donald Trump and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, November 30th, 2018. Photograph: Juan Mabromata/ AFP

 

President Donald Trump hit back at an explosive report in the New York Times which claims that the FBI investigated whether the US president was working on behalf of Russia.

According to the report, law enforcement officials became concerned about the president’s ties with Russia after he fired FBI chief James Comey in May 2017, opening a criminal and counterintelligence investigation against him.

The report is the latest allegation to engulf the White House amid signs that the Mueller investigation, which is looking into possible ties between Russia and members of the 2016 Trump campaign, is entering its final stages.

In a phone-in interview with Fox News on Saturday night Mr Trump lambasted the report.

Asked by host Jeanine Pirro if he had ever worked with Russia, he called it “the most insulting” question he has ever been asked.

“If you read the article you’ll see that they found absolutely nothing,” he said, adding that he had been tougher on Russia than any other US president.

Separately the Washington Post reported that Mr Trump sought to hide details of his conversations with Russian president Vladimir Putin from his staff, including instructing the translator who attended a meeting in Hamburg in 2017 not to discuss the meeting with White House officials.

Mr Trump dismissed the report. “The whole Russia thing is a hoax,” he said.

As Mr Trump faced deepening pressure about his alleged links with Russia, an ABC-Washington Post poll on Sunday found that most Americans blame the president and Republicans for the continuing government shutdown which is now the longest in history; 53 per cent blamed Republicans while only 29 per cent blamed Democrats for the standoff which has left hundreds of thousands of government workers without pay.