Trump says he’s been ‘far tougher’ on Russia than previous US presidents

Trump says he’s been ‘far tougher’ on Russia than previous US presidents

NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that he has been "far tougher" on Russia's government than his predecessors, hours after an explosive New York Times report revealed that the FBI opened an investigation in 2017 into whether Trump was working for Russia.

Reacting to the Times report, 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 (Barack) Obama, (George) Bush or (Bill) 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!” 
The New York York Times report had said that FBI agents opened a probe shortly after Trump fired James Comey, the FBI director that was leading a probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia to determine whether the US presidential nominee at the time was directly working on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States. 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.