President Donald Trump is pushing back on a New York Times report which claims the FBI had opened an investigation to determine if the president was knowingly or unknowingly a Russian agent. In an interview televised Saturday, Fox News' Jeanine Pirro asked Trump if he'd worked for Russia and well, the president didn't exactly say no. In fact, Trump's answer ended up going viral because he appeared to duck the question.
"I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked," President Trump said when Pirro asked him if he was now, or had ever worked for Russia. "I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written. And if you read the article you'd see that they found absolutely nothing," the president continued, referencing The New York Times report.
President Trump then went on to claim that The New York Times was "called 'the Failing New York Times' for a reason" (it should be noted that 1. the paper does not appear to be failing in terms of revenue or readership and 2. Trump created that nickname himself and much like "fetch" in the Mean Girls universe, it's not exactly catching on). "They've gotten me wrong for three years," the president claimed. "They've actually gotten me wrong for many years before that."
The president then quickly pivoted to James Comey, telling Pirro that he calls the former FBI Director "Lying James Comey" because "he's a terrible liar and he did a terrible job as the FBI director."
"Look at what happened with Hillary Clinton and the emails and the Hillary Clinton investigation, one of the biggest screw ups that anybody has ever seen as an investigation," Trump said. "And what happened after I fired him? Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, his lover Lisa Page, they did it and you know, they're all gone. Most of those people, many, many people from the top ranks of the FBI, they've all been fired or they had to leave."
Trump then reiterated that he felt the article was "a great insult" and called the New York Times "a disaster" of a paper. "It's a very horrible thing they said, and they've gone so far that people that weren't necessarily believers are now big believers because they said, that was a step too far," the president said.
A report published in The New York Times on Friday alleged that FBI officials had become so "concerned" about the president's behavior after he fired Comey in May 2017 that they'd launched both a criminal and a counterintelligence investigation to determine if the president was knowingly or unknowingly working against American interests on behalf of Russia. The paper claims that counterintelligence investigators were tasked with looking into whether the president's actions "constituted a possible threat to national security."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the report "absurd" in a statement provided to Politico. "James Comey was fired because he's a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI," she said.
In speaking to Pirro late Saturday, Trump claimed he'd been "tougher on Russia than anybody else," including "probably any other president period, but certainly the last three or four presidents." The president had made a similar argument in a tweet posted to his official Twitter page earlier in the day.