US President Donald Trump has sharply rejected a media report about FBI investigations directed against him in the Russia affair. It is the “most offensive newspaper article” he has ever come across, Trump said in a telephone interview with Fox News on Saturday.

When asked by presenter Jeanine Pirro whether he was currently working for Russia or had ever done so, he replied: “I think this is the most insulting thing I have ever been asked”.

According to a New York Times report, in 2017, the FBI was so worried about Trump’s behavior in the days following the dismissal of its then director James Comey that it investigated whether the president was secretly acting against US interests for Russia. The Times referred to unspecified ex-representatives of security agencies and people familiar with the investigation.

In concrete terms, investigators of the counterintelligence department examined whether Trump could be classified as a possible threat to national security. They also examined whether the President might have been influenced unconsciously by Moscow.

“No reason and no proof.
The investigations are embedded in comprehensive investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, and a possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Special investigator Robert Mueller took over the investigation soon after Comey’s release. However, it is unclear whether Mueller will continue to pursue Trump’s possible involvement in Russia, the Times reported.

In a first reaction on Saturday morning, Trump twittered that the report showed that the FBI had initiated investigations against him without any reason or evidence. In an interview with Fox, he then explained that no president had shown more severity towards Russia than he had. One could “ask the people in Russia”, he added. Trump vehemently denied any cooperation with Moscow several times and called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt”.

“I don’t know if there will be a deal.
In the interview, Trump also hinted at the continuation of the partial administrative standstill that had lasted for more than three weeks. He had “no idea” whether he could come to a deal in the budget dispute with the democratic chairman of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Trump said. At the same time, he rejected the impression that he had no strategy for ending the partial shutdown, but did not want to betray it.

In the interview, Trump also brought into play the possibility of declaring a national emergency in order to push through the wall without the approval of Congress. When asked why he had not yet done so, he said he wanted to give Congress the chance to “act responsibly”.

For 23 days parts of the US administration have had no money at their disposal – the country is experiencing the longest so-called “shutdown” in its history.

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