Trump complains about 'naysayers' in the media

  • 18/05/2017

US President Donald Trump has made his first public appearance since claims emerged that he asked the FBI to drop the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

He was speaking at a graduation ceremony at a coastguard academy when he complained about how the media is treating him.

"Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media," he said. "You can't let the naysayers get in the way of your dreams. I guess that's why we won. The more righteous your fight, the more opposition you will face."

Mr Trump then said he'd "accomplished a great deal in a very short time".

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the US President did not pass on any secrets to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting at the White House last week, and that he can prove it.

Mr Putin has offered to release a transcript of the meeting with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador.

Speaking at a news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday, Mr Putin quipped that Mr Lavrov was remiss for not passing on what he made clear he believed were non-existent secrets.

"I spoke to him today," Mr Putin said with a smile. "I'll be forced to issue him with a reprimand because he did not share these secrets with us. Not with me, nor with representatives of Russia's intelligence services. It was very bad of him."

Mr Putin, who said Moscow rated Mr Lavrov's meeting with Mr Trump "highly", said Russia was ready to hand a transcript of Mr Trump's meeting with Mr Lavrov over to members of Congress if it helped reassure them.

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov later told reporters Moscow had a written record of the conversation but no audio.

Complaining about what he said were signs of "political schizophrenia" in the United States, Mr Putin said Mr Trump was not being allowed to do his job properly.

"It's hard to imagine what else can these people who generate such nonsense and rubbish can dream up next.

"What surprises me is that they are shaking up the domestic political situation using anti-Russian slogans.

"Either they don't understand the damage they're doing to their own country, in which case they are simply stupid, or they understand everything, in which case they are dangerous and corrupt."

Two US officials said on Monday Mr Trump had disclosed highly classified information to Lavrov about a planned Islamic State operation, plunging the White House into another controversy.

Russia has repeatedly said anti-Russian US politicians are using groundless fears of closer ties with Moscow to sabotage any rapprochement and damage Mr Trump in the process.

Calls for probe grow

A small but growing number of Republican US lawmakers have called for an independent probe of possible collusion between Mr Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia, spurred by a memo from the fired FBI chief that Mr Trump had sought to impede the agency's investigation.

The tumult in Washington deepened on Tuesday over allegations Mr Trump had sought to end the FBI's investigation into ties between Mr Trump, Mr Flynn and Russia.

James Comey, whose firing as FBI director last week triggered a political firestorm, wrote a memo detailing Mr Trump's comments to him in February saying "I hope you can let this go," referring to the Flynn probe, according to a source who has seen a memo written by Mr Comey.

The Comey memo caused alarm on Capitol Hill and raised questions about whether Mr Trump attempted to interfere with a federal investigation. The White House denied the report, saying it was "not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr Comey".

US stocks opened sharply lower on Wednesday after the reports of the memo.

Special prosecutor wanted, even by some Republicans

Democratic lawmakers have demanded that the Justice Department name a special prosecutor to investigate potential ties between Mr Trump's campaign and Russia.

But most Republicans have said the current FBI probe and investigations in the Republican-led Congress are sufficient.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan stuck to that line and told reporters on Wednesday he still has confidence in Mr Trump. Ryan also insisted the Trump controversies were not paralysing Republican legislative efforts in Congress.

"We need the facts," Mr Ryan said. "It is obvious there are some people out there who want to harm the president. But we have an obligation to carry out our oversight regardless of which party is in the White House."

"I'm sure we're going to go on to hear from Mr Comey about why, if this happened as he allegedly describes, why didn't he take action at the time? So there are a lot of unanswered questions."

A few Republicans have begun to call for an independent probe.

"If in fact what was in the memo is true, it's very concerning, and we need to get to the bottom of that," Republican Adam Kinzinger, a member of the House of Representative Foreign Affairs Committee, said on CNN. "I think we are in the position now where it's time for an independent commission or a special prosecutor or whatever."

Reuters / Newshub.