Amid controversy, Trump says campaign aides had no contact with Russia | Reuters
By Steve Holland | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON President Donald Trump dismissed media reports that his presidential campaign team had contacts with Russian intelligence officials, saying on Thursday that he was not aware of any member of his team having been in touch with Russia ahead of the November election.As his administration grapples with a growing controversy about the relationship between his aides and Moscow, Trump also said he had not directed his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to talk to Russia's ambassador about U.S.
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON President Donald Trump dismissed media reports that his presidential campaign team had contacts with Russian intelligence officials, saying on Thursday that he was not aware of any member of his team having been in touch with Russia ahead of the November election.As his administration grapples with a growing controversy about the relationship between his aides and Moscow, Trump also said he had not directed his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to talk to Russia's ambassador about U.S. sanctions before taking office.Speaking at a White House news conference, Trump dismissed the controversy about the relationship between his aides and Moscow as a "scam" and "a ruse" perpetrated by a hostile news media.Trump said he had asked the Justice Department to look into the leaks of "classified information that was given illegally" to journalists regarding the relationship between his aides and Russia. "The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake," Trump said.
He also said he did not think that Russian President Vladimir Putin was taking actions that would test him early in his term in office.Trump, who took office on Jan. 20 and has voiced supported for improved ties with Russia, added that he personally had no business deals in that country.The New York Times reported on Tuesday that phone call records and intercepted calls showed members of Trump's presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the Nov. 8 election in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Pressed by reporters about whether he was aware if any member of his presidential campaign team had contacts with Russia before the election, the Republican president said, "Nobody that I know of."Trump asked for and received Flynn's resignation on Monday after disclosures that the senior aide had discussed U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office, and that Flynn later misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations."You know, first everybody got excited because they thought he did something wrong. After they thought about it, it turned out he was just doing his job," Trump said of Flynn regarding the discussion with the Russian ambassador.
"No, I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him if he didn't do it. OK?" Trump said, who said the problem was Flynn's having misled Pence.Trump, a wealthy new York real estate developer with global business interests, also portrayed himself as having no ties to Russia."I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia," Trump said. (Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.