Trump rejects reports he worked for Russia

By AAP Newswire

US President Donald Trump has said he never worked for Russia, his first direct denial after a media report that the FBI in 2017 investigated whether he acted against US interests.

Trump also disputed another report that he had concealed details about his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and confiscated his interpreter's notes as Congressional Democrats raised the possibility of subpoenaing the translator.

The New York Times reported on Friday that the FBI opened the investigation after Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey raised concerns that the president posed a threat to national security.

After the report emerged, Trump attacked the FBI and the Times, but he did not issue a specific denial about working with Russia until Monday.

"Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even asked that question because it's a whole big fat hoax," Trump told reporters.

Trump's relations with Russia and Putin have clouded his presidency from the beginning and he has long dismissed the federal investigation into whether his 2016 campaign worked with Russia to sway the election as a hoax and a "witch hunt."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to take over FBI investigations involving Trump and Russia in May 2017 after Trump fired Comey. Several former Trump top aides, including national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and several Russians are among dozens caught up in Mueller's probe.

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported Trump took notes that his interpreter made during a 2017 meeting in Hamburg with Putin that also was attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Trump also told the interpreter not to talk to other administration officials about what was said in the meetings, the Post said.

"I just don't know anything about it," Trump said on Monday of the interpreter's notes.

He said he had a successful meeting with Putin, adding: "We have those meetings all the time, no big deal."

Democrats said, however, they thought it was a very big deal and expressed concern about the report on the interpreter.

US Representative Eliot Engel said the House Foreign Affairs Committee he chairs is working with the Intelligence Committee to discuss a possible subpoena of the Trump-Putin interpreter.

He said he would prefer not to do that, but added: "We may have no choice."

"She has to be heard from, under oath, before our committee," Representative Gerry Connolly, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said on CNN.

Asked whether the committees also are considering asking Tillerson to testify, Engel said they were casting a wide net but no decisions had been made.

US intelligence agencies have concluded Moscow led a propaganda and hacking campaign designed to tip the 2016 White House race to Trump. Russia has denied interfering.