Trump denies hiding details of Putin talks

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has rejected a Washington Post report that he has refused to share details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin with top US government officials.

Mr Trump, in a telephone interview late last Saturday with Fox News, dismissed as "ridiculous" the Post story that alleged he went to great lengths to hide the content of his talks with Mr Putin, even confiscating the notes of his interpreter and ordering that person to not discuss what was said.

Mr Trump said he had "a great conversation" with Mr Putin in Helsinki in July last year. When asked why not release details of the nearly two-hour conversation, Mr Trump said: "I would, I don't care.

"I mean, I had a conversation like every president does... We were talking about Israel and securing Israel and lots of other things... I'm not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn't care less."

According to the Post, there is no detailed record of Mr Trump's personal talks with Mr Putin at five locations over the past two years.

Mr Trump also told Fox, when asked about Mr Putin, that "no collusion" has been found between his 2016 campaign and Russia.

Mr Trump also took aim at an earlier story in The New York Times stating that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched a previously undisclosed investigation to determine whether he posed a national security threat at the same time that it opened a criminal probe into possible obstruction of justice.

 
 
 

The FBI investigation was later folded into the broader probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and possible collaboration by the Trump campaign.

Fox asked if he had ever worked for Russia. "I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked," Mr Trump said, without directly answering the question.

He then slammed the Times story as "the most insulting article ever written and if you read the article, you'd see that they found absolutely nothing".

No evidence has publicly emerged that Mr Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian officials, the Times said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2019, with the headline 'Trump denies hiding details of Putin talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe