After a double-whammy of alarming reports about Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, the president held a chummy interview with Fox News on Saturday night to assail a New York Times article about an FBI investigation into him as “insulting” and claiming the Washington Post report on his alleged efforts to cover up his meetings with Russia perpetuated a “hoax.”
“The New York Times is a disaster as a paper,” Trump said, in response to a question from Fox News host Jeanine Pirro about a Times story published Friday that claimed the FBI had investigated whether Trump was under the control of the Russian government after he fired former FBI director James Comey.
“So I’m going to ask you, are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?” asked Pirro, who praised Trump several times during the segment and said the president “really deserve[s] a vacation.”
Trump did not answer directly. “I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written,” he replied, referring to the Times report. “And if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing.”
The Times reported that federal law enforcement officials probed whether Trump had been under Russian influence and posed a threat to national security after he terminated Comey in 2017.
“I call him ‘Lyin’ James Comey’ because he was a terrible liar, and he did a terrible job as the FBI director,” Trump said before criticizing Hillary Clinton and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.
“I’ve been tougher on Russia than anybody else,” he added. “Nobody’s been as tough as I have.”
“It’s called ‘The Failing New York Times, for a reason,” Trump went on, citing his own chestnut monicker for the paper that has grown more prosperous amid a series of hit scoops into Trump’s administration, his indictments campaign allies, and the Justice Department’s Russia probe.
Hours before his call in to Fox News, the Washington Post reported that Trump had been withholding details of private meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin from his staff.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told NBC that the story “didn’t even warrant a response.”
But Trump responded on Fox News by dismissing the report and arguing the newspaper was “basically the lobbyist for Amazon,” which is also owned by Jeff Bezos.
“I had a conversation like every president does,” Trump said of meetings with Putin. “I do it with all countries. We had a great conversation. We were talking about Israel and securing Israel and lots of other things.”
“I meet with all of them, but nobody says anything. But I meet with Putin, and they make a big deal,” he said. “You know, the whole Russia thing, it’s a hoax. It’s a terrible hoax.”
“The Washington Post,” he said, “is almost as bad, or probably as bad, as The New York Times.”
Pirro closed the segment on her show, “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” by saying, “Well, I’ll tell you, Mr. President… the Justice viewers, they are behind you 100%.”