What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Denying he ever worked for Russia, Trump calls the question a ‘disgrace’

On Monday, President Trump denied being a Russian agent after The New York Times reported the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was acting on Russia’s behalf. He called the FBI officials who launched the inquiry “scoundrels” and “dirty cops.” But questions remain about his interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nick Schifrin reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We have two lead stories tonight.

    The government of the United States remains partly shut down. At the same time, we watched President Trump denying that he ever worked on behalf of another government.

    We begin with that denial and the new questions about Mr. Trump and Moscow.

    Foreign affairs correspondent Nick Schifrin reports.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    On a wintry morning outside the White House, the president of the United States declared: I am not a Russian agent.

  • Donald Trump:

    I never worked for Russia, and you know that answer better than anybody. I never worked for Russia. 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.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    President Trump was responding to a New York Times report the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Mr. Trump was — quote — "knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence."

    The bureau opened the counterintelligence investigation after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and suggested to NBC News he did so to end the Russia investigation.

  • Donald Trump:

    I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Today, President Trump accused the FBI officials who started the counterintelligence investigation of corruption.

  • Donald Trump:

    I guess they started it because I fired Comey, which was a great thing I did for our country. So the people doing that investigation were people that have been caught that are known scoundrels there. I guess you could say they are dirty cops.

    Wouldn't it be a great thing if we could actually get along with Russia?

  • Nick Schifrin:

    As both candidate and president, Mr. Trump has long advocated for improved U.S.-Russia relations, and defended Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • Bill O’Reilly:

    Putin's a killer.

  • Donald Trump:

    There are a lot of killers. We got a lot of killers. What, you think our country's so innocent?

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The intelligence community was already investigating Mr. Trump's business and political connections to Russia. And then he fired Comey.

    Days later, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate conspiracy and obstruction. What's new is, The New York Times reports the FBI also asked Mueller to investigate whether Mr. Trump was acting on Russia's behalf.

  • Donald Trump:

    President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it's going very well.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    President Trump also faces allegations he withheld details of his conversations with Putin even from his own staff. According to The Washington Post, on at least one occasion, the president took his interpreter's notes and told the interpreter — quote — "not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials."

    But that means there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump's face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years.

    A White House officials disputes, saying senior aides, such as National Security Adviser John Bolton, received a readout.

    Today, President Trump said he was willing to release details and that private meetings are normal.

  • Donald Trump:

    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.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The president feared his private conversations becoming public, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said today.

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    The president at that time in 2017 was suffering from a great number of leaks. We are always very concerned about leaks, obviously, particularly national security leaks. That's not funny and it's serious business.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The Trump administration pursued a more aggressive policy against Russia than its predecessors, launching missiles into Russian ally Syria, sending offensive weapons to Ukrainian soldiers fighting Russian-backed separatists, closing Russian consulates, and expelling Russian diplomats.

    But President Trump's rhetoric continues to defend Putin, and instead target the U.S. law enforcement agency that is investigating him.

  • Donald Trump:

    They are so embarrassed by their leadership, you have never seen — I have never seen a turnaround in a bureau or a agency like I have with the FBI

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That was Nick Schifrin.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest