President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro hits Trump in campaign launch: ‘A crisis of leadership’ Center stage once again: Colin Powell’s UN speech in ‘Vice’ Julián Castro announces 2020 White House bid, swipes at Trump MORE claimed Saturday that he has been “far tougher” on Russia’s government than his predecessors, hours after a bombshell New York Times report revealed that the FBI opened an investigation in 2017 into whether Trump was working for Russia.
In a tweet posted Saturday morning, the president argued that it was right to seek positive relations with Russia, while arguing that his administration had confronted Moscow on the global stage more than the previous three administrations.
“I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton,” Trump tweeted. “Maybe tougher than any other President.”
“At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he went on. “I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!”
I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President. At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
Trump’s claim that he has taken stronger positions on Russia than his predecessors echoed a statement released by the White House on Friday night pushing back on the Times’s story.
The Trump administration faced a rocky relationship with Russia for most of 2018, especially in the latter half of the year when the U.S. imposed new sanctions on a dozen individuals related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, a territory in Ukraine.
Earlier in the year, however, the U.S.-Russia relationship appeared headed in a different direction following a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, after which Trump shocked many in Washington by appearing to agree with Russia’s explanation for election meddling in 2016 over the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies.
The president later walked those words back following a storm of controversy, claiming to have misstated his conclusion on whether Russia was involved in the hack of Democratic organizations during the 2016 presidential election.
On Friday, the Times reported that FBI agents opened an investigation shortly after Trump fired James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey tweets FDR quote after latest Trump attack Pompeo: ‘Ludicrous’ to think Trump is threat to US national security Witch hunt or mole hunt? Times bombshell blows up all theories MORE, the FBI director leading the probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, to determine whether Trump was directly working on behalf of Putin in the United States.