On Wednesday, top officials from the Kremlin dismissed the idea that Donald Trump could be working as a Russian agent, and criticized American journalists for discussing the issue at all. These allegations come in light of two new reports that raise serious questions about the level of involvement Trump has with the Russian government, in particular with President Vladimir Putin.
According to Bloomberg News, the New York Times claims that as far back as 2017, there were questions about who Trump was working for. In a new report, the New York Times asserts that the FBI actually opened an investigation into Trump to determine whether he was being used — knowingly or unknowingly — by the Russian government. But Kremlin officials were quick to shut down discussions on the topic, calling it “nonsense.”
“That’s stupid,” Yuri Ushakov, foreign policy aide to President Vladimir Putin, said to reporters on Wednesday. “How can the president of the United States be an agent of another country? Just think about that.”
And he was not alone in his rejection of the reports, which were released over the weekend. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov joined his colleague in shutting down the story, speaking about it at his annual press conference. Lavrov even went so far as to attack the American journalists covering the story, saying the American media was “lowering its journalistic standards.”
— The Hill (@thehill) January 16, 2019
Trump doubled down on Monday, once again saying that he “never worked for Russia.” But the New York Times wasn’t the only outlet with a story about Russian influence — the Washington Post is also claiming that Trump has been trying to keep the details of meetings with Putin a secret from his administration. Trump has denied these allegations as well, insisting that there is no cover-up — and that he has nothing to hide.
All of this controversy comes just as special counsel Robert Mueller draws closer to ending his investigation. Mueller has been tasked with determining if there was any Russian interference in the 2016 election, and whether any alleged interference helped Trump get to the White House. Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller, calling his investigation a “witch hunt” and questioning his integrity.
Mueller has indicted several Russian nationals during his investigation, as well as multiple companies for their involvement in meddling with the 2016 presidential election. Despite this, Russian officials have strenuously denied any involvement with the election. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, recently said that the president will not answer any further questions posed by Mueller in the probe, and urged Mueller to release his findings to the world.