President Donald Trump on Monday denied having ever worked for the Russian government after a report published last week indicated the FBI opened an investigation in 2017 into whether he had been an agent of the Kremlin.
In a stunning exchange in front of the White House, the president declared he “never worked” for the adversarial foreign government and tore into a reporter for asking about the alleged probe, which was first reported by The New York Times on Friday.
“I never worked for Russia,” Trump said. “Not only did I never work for Russia, but I think it’s a disgrace that you even asked that question. Because it’s a whole big fat hoax. It’s just a hoax.”
Trump raised eyebrows on Saturday after he called into Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show and did not specifically deny having operated on behalf of the Kremlin.
Pirro, a friend of the president, asked if he had ever worked for Russia. Trump said her question was “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”
“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,” the president told Pirro.
FBI investigators opened the inquiry days after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, according to the Times. Comey had been leading the investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to take over the Russia interference probe, as well as the inquiry into whether Trump had either knowingly or unwittingly worked to help the Kremlin, the Times reported. Mueller is also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice.
No evidence has emerged publicly to suggest Trump was in contact with or took direction from Russian officials.