Trump’s weekend: new Russian Federation questions, shutdown irritants

Nellie Chapman
January 14, 2019

"I really think that the investigation was about Trump from the beginning", McCarthy said.

Also this weekend, the Washington Post reported that Trump "has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide details of his conversations" with Putin from members of his own administration - "including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials". According to the story, Trump's actions included "taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials", such as former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Trump's continued pushback comes days after he engaged in a a friendly television interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday, where he bristled when asked if he had ever worked for Russian Federation but never flat-out denied it. "It was a great conversation".

Mr. Trump said he is "not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn't care less", adding that "anybody could have listened to that meeting". But Trump's behavior in the days around Comey's May 2017 firing as FBI director, specifically two instances in which he seemed to tie Comey's ousting to the Russian Federation investigation, helped trigger the counterintelligence part of the investigation, according to the newspaper.

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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.

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". But the White House, and Trump himself, disagree.

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A White House spokesman told the Post that the Trump administration has looked to "improve the relationship with Russia" after the Obama administration "pursued a flawed "reset" policy that sought engagement for the sake of engagement".

But, apparently, it's not: Several unnamed officials, according to the Post, "said they were never able to get a reliable readout of the president's two-hour meeting in Helsinki".

McCarthy said on Fox & Friends that he's surprised people are "whipped up" about a New York Times report of a secret FBI investigation into whether Trump was working on behalf of Russian Federation shortly after he fired former director James Comey.

The House Republican would not further describe the contents of the Baker transcript but said it was clear, based on his direct questioning of Baker, that in May 2017 "FBI senior leadership could not accept Comey was sacked for cause and the president had the constitutional authority to terminate Comey".

"My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, and some others, they said they think it's Russian Federation", the president said at the time.

Mnuchin said the firms would face consequences including the reimposition of sanctions if they failed to comply with the terms.

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