President Donald Trump on Monday denied he worked for Russia, a direct response to a weekend report from The New York Times that FBI investigators had opened a probe into whether the president had acted on behalf of the country.
The newspaper’s report said the agency started investigating Trump in 2017, after he had fired former FBI Director James Comey.
“I never worked for Russia,” Trump told reporters before departing the south lawn of the White House for a scheduled trip to New Orleans.
The president bristled at reporters asking a question about the report of an FBI investigation, adding, “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.”
Trump also described former FBI and Department of Justice officials as “scoundrels” and “dirty cops.”
The president pushed back on the Times’ report several times this weekend. In a long Twitter screed on Saturday, Trump posted misleading claims often without evidence, including the assertion that Comey was being “totally protected by his best friend” special counsel Robert Mueller amid Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.
…..who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats – leaking machines who have NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee. Just Watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
That same day, during an interview with Fox News, Jeanine Pirro asked Trump: “Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?” Trump did not directly answer her question, but said the question the newspaper’s story raised was the “most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”
Here’s what else Trump said from the South Lawn:
Trump, again, says there’s a “big crisis” on the border. “We have a priority; it’s the safety of our nation. The southern border has been horrible for decades,” he said.
The negotiations over the partial government shutdown remain at an impasse, and at the heart of it all is the president’s demand for billions of dollars to fund his border wall proposal. However, Democrats have refused to provide the funds for the president’s much-touted border wall plan.
Trump has routinely characterized the migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border as a “crisis.” The PBS NewsHour walked through several of the president’s claims about immigration and the situation at the border.
Trump turned down a proposal to reopen the government for several weeks. Meanwhile, the current shutdown, now in its 23rd day, is the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Trump said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham came to him with a proposal to reopen the government for a short time, with a promise to continue negotiations with Democrats over the border wall. Trump said he rejected it.
“I’m not interested,” Trump said of the proposal. “I want to get it solved. I don’t want to just delay it,” he added.
Trump says he’s ‘not looking’ to call a national emergency. “I have the absolute legal right to call it, but I’m not looking to do that,” he told reporters.
It seems Trump can move forward to declare a national emergency over the border wall, but it does raise the question of whether there’s legal cover for the president to do that.