On January 14, asked outside the White House if he was working for Russia,
President Trump denied it outright before adding: “I think it’s a disgrace that you even ask that question because
it’s a whole big fat hoax.”
President Trump was posed the same
question by a Fox News host on January 12, and called it “the most
insulting thing I’ve ever been asked”.
The New York Times
notes in its own report no evidence has emerged publicly that President Trump
took direction from Russian government officials.
On January 13, the president said
his dismissal of James Comey was “a great service I did for our
country”, while railing against FBI investigators as “known
scoundrels” and “dirty cops”.
It was also reported at the weekend
that President Trump had confiscated the notes of his own interpreter after a
meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the Washington Post, President Trump ordered
the translator not to discuss the details of what was said.
However, on January 14, President Trump
defended his nearly hour long discussion with President Putin in July 2017 on the
sidelines of a G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
“It’s a lot of fake news,” he said, as he left to address a farming convention in New
“That was a very good meeting. It was actually a very
President Trump said he and Vladimir
Putin discussed Israel and a German-Russian pipeline, adding: “We have those meetings all the time no
ABC News reports that Democratic
congressmen are considering issuing subpoenas to interpreters who attended
President Trump’s meetings with Vladimir Putin.
On January 14, former Democratic White House candidate Hillary Clinton could not resist reminding Twitter users that during a campaign debate she had called Donald Trump the Russian leader’s puppet.
President Donald Trump has responded to those criticizing his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Writing on Twitter, President Trump condemned “haters” who did not want him getting along with Vladimir Putin, saying they suffered from “Trump Derangement Syndrome”.
President Trump said he misspoke at the press conference with President Putin.
He had sided with the Russian leader over his own intelligence services on claims of Russian election meddling.
That had sparked outrage from both sides of the political divide.
In a series of tweets, President Trump said: “So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!”
Later, he added: “Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!”
The tweets came a day after he said he had missed out a word when appearing to support Vladimir Putin’s claim that there was no Russian involvement in the 2016 US presidential election.
President Trump said he accepted his intelligence services’ assessment that Russia had interfered.
The controversy centers on a response he gave to a question at a news conference on July 16 following the summit with President Putin.
The AP reporter asked at the news conference: “President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is, who do you believe?”
President Trump responded: “My people came to me… they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
President Trump said he had reviewed the transcript and realized he needed to clarify.
He said: “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word <<would>> instead of <<wouldn’t>>.
“The sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t’ or ‘why it wouldn’t be Russia’. Sort of a double negative.”
President Trump added: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”
A 29-year-old Russian woman has been charged in the US with conspiracy to act as a Russian government agent while infiltrating political groups.
According to media reports, Maria Butina had developed close ties with the GOP and had become an advocate for gun rights.
The charges are not related to Robert Mueller investigation that is examining alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Maria Butina allegedly worked at the direction of a high-level Kremlin official.
Her attorney, Robert Driscoll said in a statement released on July 16 that his client was “not an agent” and instead just an international relations student “who is seeking to use her degree to pursue a career in business”.
Robert Driscoll added the charges were “overblown” and there was “no indication of Maria Butina seeking to influence or undermine any specific policy or law or the United States”.
He said his client had “been co-operating with various government entities for months” over the allegations.
Maria Butina, who lives in Washington, was arrested on July 15 and was held in jail pending a hearing set for July 18, the DOJ said in a statement.
The announcement of Maria Butina’s arrest came hours after President Donald Trump met Russian President Vladimir Putin, and defended the Kremlin against claims of interference in the 2016 presidential election.
President Trump said there had been no reason for Russia to meddle in the vote.
Maria Butina’s arrest also came days after the justice department charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials in the 2016 US elections.
In a sworn statement unsealed on July 16, FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson said Maria Butina’s assignment was to “exploit personal connections with US persons having influence in American politics in an effort to advance the interests of the Russian Federation”.
Maria Butina did so without registering her activities with the US government, as required under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, prosecutors say.
She sought to foster ties with an “organization promoting gun rights”, the DOJ said, without naming any group or politicians.
According to an affidavit, Maria Butina was trying to “establish a <<back channel>> communication for representatives of the Government of Russia”.
The criminal complaint states that Maria Butina focused on developing personal connections with influential US politicians to “advance the interest” of Russia.
As a part of that alleged mission, the complaint says she was organizing an event to further influence “the views of US officials as those views relate to the Russian Federation”.
According to the complaint, Maria Butina reported back to an official in the Russian government about her progress using Twitter direct messages among other means.
In one message, the Russian official told her: “Your political star has risen in the sky. Now it is important to rise to the zenith and not burn out (fall) prematurely.”
The affidavit also states that the unnamed official was sanctioned by the US Treasury.
Maria Butina, originally from Siberia, came to the US on a student visa to study at American University. The complaint alleges that she was in fact secretly working for the Russian government.
The woman founded a group called the Right to Bear Arms before she arrived in America, and US media have previously reported her ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA), the most powerful gun lobby in the US.
Maria Butina has previously denied having worked for the Russian government.
The Washington Post reported that she became an assistant to Russian banker and former senator Alexander Torshin. He was sanctioned by the US Treasury in April.
Alexander Torshin, who is a lifetime member of the NRA, and Maria Butina attended NRA events in the US beginning in 2014.
Maria Butina also attended a Trump campaign event and reportedly asked Donald Trump about his views on foreign relations with Russia.
According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump had answered: “We get along with Putin.”
As many as 126 million American Facebook users may have seen content uploaded by Russia-based operatives over the past two years, the social networking site said.
According to Facebook, about 80,000 posts were produced before and after the 2016 US presidential election.
Most of the posts focused on divisive social and political messages.
Facebook released the figures ahead of a Senate hearing where it – together with Twitter and Google – will detail Russia’s impact on the social networks.
Russia has repeatedly denied allegations that it attempted to influence the last US presidential election, in which Republican Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
In a separate major development on October 30, an investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia produced its first charges against three former aides, and a guilty plea.
President Donald Trump has dismissed allegations of collusion with Russia, and has repeatedly called on Hillary Clinton to be investigated.
The latest figures released by Facebook have been seen by Reuters and the Washington Post.
The 80,000 posts were published between June 2015 and August 2017.
According to Facebook, they were posted by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin.
Reuters reports that Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch said: “These actions run counter to Facebook’s mission of building community and everything we stand for.
“And we are determined to do everything we can to address this new threat.”
The Washington Post reported on October 30 that Google revealed that Russian trolls uploaded more than 1,000 videos on YouTube on 18 different channels.
Meanwhile, Twitter found and suspended all 2,752 accounts that it had tracked to Russia-based Internet Research Agency, a source familiar with the company’s written testimony was quoted as saying by Reuters.
According to recent reports, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is under FBI scrutiny as part of the Russia investigation.
Reports say investigators believe Jared Kushner has relevant information, but he is not necessarily suspected of a crime.
The FBI is looking into potential Russian meddling in the last year’s election and links with Donald Trump’s campaign. The president denies any collusion.
Jared Kushner’s lawyer said his client would co-operate with any inquiry.
Donald Trump has described the Russia investigations as “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history”.
US intelligence agencies believe Russia tried to tip the election in favor of Donald Trump, who beat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Image source Wikimedia
US officials, who were not named, told NBC News that the interest in Jared Kushner did not mean the investigators suspected him of a crime or intended to charge him.
Separately, the Washington Post reported that the investigators were focusing on meetings Jared Kushner held last year with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, and a banker from Moscow, Sergei Gorkov.
Sergei Gorkov is the head of Vnesheconombank, which has been subject to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Vnesheconombank is under the control of Russian PM Dmitri Medvedev and other members of the government, and has been used to fund major projects such as the 2014 Winter Olympics in the southern Russian resort of Sochi.
Jared Kushner, 36, has said he did not discuss sanctions with Sergei Gorkov.
Last week, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named by the justice department as special counsel to oversee the Russia inquiry.
Congress is also looking into Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and any Trump campaign ties.
Jared Kushner has already agreed to discuss his Russian contacts with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Calls for a special investigation have mounted since President Trump fired the most recent FBI director, James Comey, earlier this month.
The White House has been engulfed in crisis over allegations that President Trump asked James Comey to drop an inquiry into links between his ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia.
Michael Flynn was forced out in February after he misled the vice-president about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador before Donald Trump took office in January.
Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the US presidential election.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that former Trump aide Michael Flynn told his transition team at the beginning of January – earlier than was previously thought – that he was under federal investigation for working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the election campaign.
Donald Trump appointed Michael Flynn as his national security adviser weeks later despite the warning, but he was sacked after just 24 days.
In his statement announcing Robert Mueller’s appointment, Rod Rosenstein said: “The public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”
Robert Mueller, who will have wide-ranging powers, said simply: “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”
Just over an hour after the news of Robert Mueller’s appointment emerged, President Trump predicted the new investigation would clear him and his team.
“A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” he said.
US intelligence agencies believe Moscow tried to tip the election in favor of Donald Trump.
In his statement announcing the move, Rod Rosenstein said: “The public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”
Robert Mueller, who will have wide-ranging powers, said simply: “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”
Just over an hour after the news of Robert Mueller’s appointment emerged, President Trump predicted the new investigation would clear him and his team. Previously, the White House had said there was no need for an outsider to lead an inquiry.
Image source Wikimedia
“A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” said President Trump.
The top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said Robert Mueller was “exactly the right kind of individual for this job”.
However, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi was more cautious, saying: “A special prosecutor is the first step, but it cannot be the last.
“He cannot take the place of a truly independent, outside commission that is completely free from the Trump administration’s meddling.”
Republican leaders were also restrained.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the appointment “confirms that the investigation… will continue.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “My priority has been to ensure thorough and independent investigations are allowed to follow the facts wherever they may lead… The addition of Robert Mueller as special counsel is consistent with this goal.”
Normally US prosecutors answer to the attorney general. However, for investigations into high-ranking officials in the executive branch the attorney general – or in this case Rod Rosenstein – can appoint a special counsel with greater independence from the executive.
However, while special counsels are free from day-to-day supervision by the justice department, they must notify the attorney general of any “significant” action and they would need to ask permission to expand the investigation beyond their mandate.
Robert Mueller has the authority to investigate not only links or co-ordination between Russia and Trump campaign officials, but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation”.
The role should not be confused with that of independent counsel, a role introduced in legislation by Congress after the 1970s Watergate scandal.
Appointed by a three-judge panel, the independent counsel operated outside the jurisdiction of the justice department.
However, after the experiences of the Iran-Contra investigation during the Reagan administration and the inquiry into President Bill Clinton’s Whitewater land deal, the law fell out of favor with both Republicans and Democrats, and Congress failed to renew it in 1999.
President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced out in February after he misled the vice-president about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador before Donald Trump took office.
However, Donald Trump has dismissed such allegations as “fake news”.
Image source Russian Foreign Ministry
During the election campaign, President Trump repeatedly criticized his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for how she handled sensitive material.
In a conversation with the Russian foreign minister and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office, the president revealed details that could lead to the exposure of a source of information, officials told the Washington Post and the New York Times.
The discussion was about an ISIS plot. President Trump reportedly went “off-script”, revealing specifics of the plot, thought to centre on the use of laptop computers on aircraft, and the city from which that threat had been detected.
The intelligence disclosed came from a US ally and was considered too sensitive to share with other US allies, the papers report.
Others present realized the mistake and scrambled to “contain the damage” by informing the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), the Washington Post reports.
Donald Trump’s actions would not be illegal, as the US president has the authority to declassify information.
They said Jeff Sessions must resign, and also called on him to step aside from an investigation by the FBI – which he oversees as attorney general – into alleged Russian interference in the US election, including contacts between Russian officials and those involved in campaigning.
The US intelligence community has concluded that alleged Russian hacking of DNC was carried out to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, allegedly regarding sanctions against Moscow.
As reported in the Washington Post and confirmed by the justice department, Jeff Sessions met Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee twice last year.
The Post reports that they held a private conversation in Jeff Sessions’s office in September and had spoken earlier in the summer at a meeting with several other ambassadors.
Jeff Sessions had meetings with more than 25 foreign ambassadors in the course of the year.
However, Jeff Sessions’ meetings with Sergei Kislyak came while he was a prominent part of Donald Trump’s campaign team – a so-called surrogate – and amid growing reports of Russian meddling in the US election.
Image source Flickr
During his confirmation hearing on January 10, Jeff Sessions was asked by Democrat Senator Al Franken: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government, in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”
Jeff Sessions responded: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians. And I’m unable to comment on it.”
In a statement on March 1, Jeff Sessions reiterated: “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”
DoJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said there had been “absolutely nothing misleading about his answer” at the confirmation hearing.
She said: “He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign – not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.”
Jeff Sessions was also backed by the White House, which condemned the “latest attack against the Trump administration by partisan Democrats”.
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Jeff Sessions of “lying under oath” and demanded he resign.
While Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said that if the reports were accurate, Jeff Sessions must withdraw from the FBI investigation.
Nikolai Lakhonin, press secretary of the Russian embassy in Washington, said the diplomatic mission did “not comment on numerous contacts” between Russian diplomats and “local partners”, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports.
News of Jeff Sessions’ meetings broke just after a congressional committee agreed to an investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the election.
The House intelligence panel inquiry will scrutinize contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow.
The White House denies any improper behavior during the election campaign, and Russia has consistently rejected allegations of interference.