Top Kremlin officials are scoffing at the idea that President Donald Trump is working as a Russian agent, dismissing the notion as “nonsense” and blasting U.S. journalists for their attention to the issue.
“That’s stupid,” said Yuri Ushakov, a foreign policy aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Bloomberg News. “How can the president of the United States be an agent of another country? Just think about that.”
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The White House was hit with a pair of bombshell reports over the weekend that involve Trump and Putin, including one from The New York Times that revealed the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump in 2017 over whether he was wittingly or unwittingly working on Russia’s behalf.
Another report, from The Washington Post, revealed that Trump has sought to conceal the details of his meetings with Putin from members of his administration, possibly in an effort to avoid leaks.
Trump this week rejected both reports, telling reporters Monday that he “never worked for Russia.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday also denied “accusations that President Trump is effectively a Russian agent,” Bloomberg reported.
He also said that in covering the reports, U.S. media are “lowering their journalistic standards” and bashed lawmakers for undermining Trump’s ability to conduct foreign policy.
Both reports come as special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly nears the closing stages of his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election in an effort to aid Trump. That probe includes whether Trump or his campaign assisted those efforts and whether the president obstructed justice in the investigation.
Trump has forcefully denied collusion with Russia and argued that if he has appeared too friendly with Putin it was only because he desires warmer relations between the two countries. Moscow has similarly denied those charges even as Mueller has indicted multiple Russian nationals and companies as part of his probe and as the U.S. has levied punishment for the election meddling.