President Trump declared on Saturday that he has been “far tougher” on Russia’s government than his predecessors. This statement came just hours after a bombshell New York Times report revealed that the FBI opened an investigation in 2017 into whether Trump was working for Russia.
Trump posted a tweet on Saturday morning in which the president argued that it was right to seek positive relations with Russia. But he adamantly argued 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!”
Trump’s position that he has taken stronger stands 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. They 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 seemed headed in a different direction due to a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. 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 backtracked on 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 Comey, 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.