Donald Trump took to his Twitter account on Saturday morning to declare that his administration has been “far tougher” on Russia than the three previous presidents: Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. He went on to claim that he’s been harder on The Kremlin than any president in history.
The tweet was one of several that Trump sent on Saturday. In others, he blasted the FBI and its former director James Comey, as well as the “failing New York Times.”
While Trump’s Twitter proclamations can seem erratic at times, this Twitter tirade seems to have been triggered by a new report from The New York Times, which claims that the FBI’s counterintelligence agents started investigating Trump’s connection to Russia back in 2017.
According to the New York Times, the FBI investigation started shortly after the Bureau’s former director, James Comey, was fired. They were reportedly seeking clarity on whether Trump could be intentionally collaborating with Russia or whether he had “unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.” The investigation also examined whether Comey’s firing constituted an obstruction of justice. This is the well-known criminal aspect of the investigation and is separate from the counterintelligence efforts. Special counsel Robert Mueller assumed control over the FBI investigation upon his appointment, but at this point, there’s no indication on how much of his overall probe has focused on counterintelligence if at all, The New York Times reports.
The White House responded to the article with a statement from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI,” the statement read, as reported by CNN. “Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”
As CNBC reports, under Trump, the United States has bombed Syrian targets, which is a blow against Russia’s ally in that fight. Furthermore, Donald Trump’s administration has not lifted sanctions on Russia which were imposed after Putin’s aggression against Ukraine over Crimea. Trump has also assisted Ukraine in a manner that Obama refused to do, by selling them “lethal weapons” in their ongoing struggle with Russia.
I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President. At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
But Trump’s statements — which seem to support Vladimir Putin — continue to raise alarm. During a summit with Putin in Helsinki last year, Trump appeared to side with Putin over his own intelligence officials on the question of whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential elections.
In the last two sentences of one of his tweets this morning, Donald expressed hopefulness about the future of U.S.-Russia relations.
“At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he wrote. “I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!”