Trump denies working for Russia and lashes out over media reports

Donald Trump has denied working for Russia and concealing his conversations with President Vladimir Putin from US officials.

In an interview with Fox News, Mr Trump claimed he was “tougher” on Russia that any recent US president and lashed out at the idea of collusion with the country as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt”.

The US president again threatened to declare a national emergency in order to end the standoff over border wall funding and the government shutdown. And in an astonishing outburst, he urged prosecutors to look into the finances of Michael Cohen’s father-in-law.

Mr Trump said his former lawyer, who provided prosecutors with information about the Trump campaign before he was found guilty of financial crimes, should “give information on his father-in-law. That’s the one people want to look at.”

The president’s latest Russia-related tirade follows a report in The New York Times that the FBI opened a counter-intelligence investigation in 2017 into whether the US president was actively working for Moscow. And according to The Washington Post, Mr Trump has gone to “extraordinary lengths” to hide details of his conversations with Mr Putin, including removing notes from his interpreter.

“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” Mr Trump said of the story about the FBI’s national security probe. “I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written … Obviously nothing was found.”

He added: “If you ask the folks in Russia I’ve been tougher on Russia than anybody else, and probably any other president, period, but certainly the last three or four presidents.”

Unnamed US officials have revealed that there are no detailed records from any of Mr Trump’s five face-to-face meetings with Vladimir Putin over the past two years.

“I’m not keeping anything under wraps,” the president insisted. “I couldn’t care less. I mean it’s so ridiculous, these people make it up. The Washington Post – that’s basically the lobbyist for Amazon.”

The DC-based paper is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of the online marketplace giant.

He added: “I’m going through all this nonsense – it’s all nonsense, but I have to be careful because these are dirty players. You got the Mueller investigation, you got all this nonsense and there’s no collusion, no nothing.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the story about Mr Trump’s conversations with Mr Putin by saying: “The liberal media has wasted two years trying to manufacture a fake collusion scandal instead of reporting the fact that… President Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”

Bizarrely, Mr Trump also told Fox News he hadn’t “left the White House for months,” even though he went to Texas on Thursday to make the case for his border wall and also travelled to Iraq in December.

On the planned $5.7 billion wall along the southern border with Mexico – the cause of the ongoing government shutdown – the president said he could still declare an emergency.

“I have the absolute right to call a national emergency. I’d rather see the Democrats come back from their vacation and act.”

Over a period of several hours, Mr Trump also addressed a whole series of topics on Twitter in an angry thread on Saturday, attacking former FBI boss James Comey, Hillary Clinton, illegal immigrants, the Democrats and US news organisations.

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