President Donald Trump has denied working for Russia, playing down a Washington Post report that he had concealed a translation of a meeting with Vladimir Putin.
Addressing reporters at the White House as he left for Louisiana, the president said: “I never worked for Russia.”
According to the New York Times meanwhile, the FBI launched a hitherto unreported inquiry into the president.
According to the newspaper, the FBI’s suspicions were raised after President Trump fired its director, James Comey, in May 2017.
That FBI inquiry, reports the New York Times, was taken over by justice department special counsel Robert Mueller.
Robert Mueller is leading an ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 presidential election.
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 Orleans.
“That was a very good meeting. It was actually a very successful meeting.”
President Trump said he and Vladimir Putin discussed Israel and a German-Russian pipeline, adding: “We have those meetings all the time no big deal.”
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.