Trump: Russia probe is greatest witch hunt of a politician in US history

US President Donald Trump says he is the victim of the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history,” in an apparent reference to the investigation regarding the president’s alleged ties with Russia.

@realDonaldTrump This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!

He went on to speak about “illegal acts” that took place during Hillary Clinton’s campaign and throughout the Obama administration, noting that there was “never a special councel (sic) appointed.”

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller. © Jonathan Ernst

It comes just one day after the US Justice Department named former FBI chief Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the US election and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

Trump’s tweets follow similar words from the president on Wednesday, in which he said that no politician “has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers during the investigation, according to AP.

Trump reiterated his innocence on Wednesday, saying in a statement that a “thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.”

Trump is also facing allegations that he leaked highly classified information to Russian officials during a meeting in the US capital last week.

That claim has been denied by both Washington and Moscow, with Russian President Vladimir Putin offering on Wednesday to release the records of the meeting, while accusing the US of developing “political schizophrenia.”

@RT_America 'No evidence Russia influencing voter tallies in...50 states' - US ex-intel chief http://on.rt.com/8b32 

Earlier this week, the Washington Post published a report claiming that Trump had “revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister [Sergey Lavrov] and ambassador in a White House meeting,” allegedly related to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

While Trump has said the “facts” discussed included terrorism and airline flight safety, which he had an “absolute right” to discuss with Russia, Lavrov on Thursday was also asked to comment on the matter.

We do not comment on gossip, but we do read [US] newspapers,” Lavrov told the media in Cyprus. “If I remember rightly, around a month-and-a-half or two months ago, the Trump administration decided to ban passengers from seven Middle Eastern countries from carrying any electronic devices on board... I don't understand where the secret is.

  • Published in World

‘Like McCarthyism’: Lavrov slams US ‘witch hunt-like’ scrutiny of Russian ambassador’s contacts

With Russian Ambassador to the USA Sergey Kislyak’s contacts with members of the Trump administration under scrutiny, Moscow won’t apply a tit-for-tat approach to US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov promised.

Lavrov said the whole situation resembled the days of McCarthyism.

 

Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. © AFP

Kislyak recently found himself under the US media spotlight with reports of his communications, first with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and then with Attorney-General Jeff Sessions.

After Wednesday reports saying Sessions had met Kislyak twice in 2016, but did not disclose the contacts during his Senate confirmation testimony, a CNN article said that “current and former US intelligence officials have described Kislyak as a top spy and recruiter of spies.” 

According to Lavrov, the situation developing around Kislyak and his contacts is reminiscent of “witch hunt.”

@realDonaldTrump ...is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total "witch hunt!"

“I can refer to a quote spread in the media today: all of this looks very much like a witch hunt or the days of McCarthyism, which we long thought have passed in the US, a civilized country," Lavrov said.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump described the scandal around Sessions as “a total witch hunt.”

READ MORE: ‘Stop spreading lies & fake news,’ Russian FM spokeswoman tells CNN reporter

“Kislyak is accused of talking to American politicians who were in opposition to the administration of then-President Barack Obama,” Lavrov said. “That is the essence of these accusations, to be honest.”

“We don't want to and we won’t ape” the American approach towards Kislyak, Lavrov said.

“If such a principle has been applied to scrutinize activity of John Tefft and his contacts, we could see quite an ‘amusing’ picture,” Lavrov said.

The minister noted that ambassadors are appointed to maintain relations with the host country.

“Relationships are maintained in the form of meetings, talks, contacts with both executive officials [from the current administration] and with politicians, public figures, non-governmental organizations. This practice has never been disputed,” Lavrov said.

READ MORE: Sessions recuses himself from Trump probes, rejects perjury claims

 

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes © Chip Somodevilla

Lavrov’s statement comes in response to the uproar in the US over a report in the Washington Post claiming that Sessions spoke to Kislyak twice in 2016. The report prompted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to demand Sessions’ resignation for “lying under oath” during the hearings.

Sessions denied any wrongdoing in meeting with the Russian ambassador, saying the two brief encounters had nothing to do with the presidential campaign. He recused himself from any investigations into the campaign, however.

The attorney-general is not the first official in the Trump administration who faces allegations of having contacts with Russian officials. Earlier, Flynn stepped down as national security advisor after being accused by the media of discussing sanctions on Russia with Kislyak. Both he and the Russian Embassy denied the discussion ever took place.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he is unaware of any such talks between Sessions and Kislyak, adding that establishing working contacts with host nation’s executive and legislative branches is an inherent part of an ambassador’s job.

“The more such meetings are being held by an ambassador, the more efficient he is. And this applies to every ambassador,” Peskov stressed, adding that Tefft “has plenty of contacts with Russian MPs and it is quite normal.”

  • Published in World
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