As the partial government shutdown creeps toward its four-week mark, President Donald Trump faced questions over a New York Times report that the FBI opened an investigation into whether he was working for Russia and against the United States.
“I never worked for Russia,” Trump told reporters on Monday. “You know that answer better than anybody. I never worked for Russia. Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace that you even ask that question because it’s a whole big fat hoax. It’s just a hoax.”
On Friday night, the Times reported that the FBI opened an investigation into the president after he fired former FBI director James Comey, a move that was due to the “Russia thing,” Trump admitted to NBC’s Lester Holt. That investigation has since been taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The focus on Russia comes as the partial government shutdown continues into its 24th day, impacting roughly 800,000 federal workers. Trump has refused to sign any new budget deal that doesn’t include $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump refused to give a direct answer Saturday night when he was asked if he worked as a Russian agent by Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, an outspoken supporter of the president.
“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” Trump said. “I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written, and if you read the article you’ll see that they found absolutely nothing.”
Here are the latest updates from Washington involving the Russia investigation:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a jab at Trump on Monday morning, sharing a video clip from the final 2016 presidential debate, in which she called her Republican opponent a “puppet” of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“Putin, from everything I see, has no respect for this person,” Trump said, pointing toward Clinton.
“Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States,” Clinton responded.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump urged Russia to hack Clinton’s emails and make them public.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said, referring to emails Clinton had deleted from a private account she used while working in the Obama administration. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Twelve Russian have been indicted and charged with hacking into both Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Convention as part of Mueller’s investigation into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election.
William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, is planning on telling senators that “it is vitally important” that Mueller finish his investigation on Russia, according to prepared remarks for his confirmation hearing, obtained by The Associated Press.
“I believe it is in the best interest of everyone — the president, Congress, and, most importantly, the American people — that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work,” Barr will reportedly say.
Barr is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing Tuesday and Wednesday.
CNN obtained transcripts of two FBI officials’ closed-door congressional interviews last year, which included an explanation from then-FBI general counsel James Baker why the bureau felt the need to investigate whether Trump was acting at the behest of Russia.