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President Donald Trump provided a confusing answer Monday when asked whether a special prosecutor should investigate connections his campaign and administration might have had with Russia.
“I haven’t called Russia in 10 years,” he said, responding to a question from a pool reporter after his meeting with health-insurance executives at the White House.
It was not clear whether Trump meant the Russian government, Russian business contacts, or other Russian individuals.
Trump held a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in January.
He has repeatedly wavered on his past contacts with Russian individuals, at times saying he has no connections in Russia. Before his campaign, Trump said he had “done a lot of business with the Russians.”
Trump held his Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. He attended the event.
“I just got back from Russia-learned lots & lots,” he tweeted in 2013. “Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place! U.S. MUST BE VERY SMART AND VERY STRATEGIC.”
During a news conference earlier this month, Trump said, “Russia is fake news.” The president was responding to a raft of leaks related to his campaign’s ties to Russia.
The calls have intensified in recent days for a special prosecutor to look into the Russia-related cloud hanging over the administration, after a New York Times report said Trump campaign officials were in repeated contact with Russian officials before the November election.
The Times report came after Trump asked for the resignation of Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, after Flynn apparently misled Vice President Mike Pence about communications he had with a Russian ambassador before Trump took office.
Trump’s White House has pushed back on the Times story, reportedly employing House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to denounce it as inaccurate.
US intelligence agencies concluded that Russian intelligence made an effort to swing the US election in Trump’s favor but have not concluded that Trump or his campaign was involved in that effort.