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Trump Dismisses Russia Controversy as “Scam”

Trump Dismisses Russia Controversy as “Scam”Trump Dismisses Russia Controversy as “Scam”

Donald Trump dismissed a growing controversy about ties between his aides and Russia on Thursday as a "ruse" and "scam" perpetrated by a hostile news media, and denied any of his associates had contacts with Moscow before last year's election.

"The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake," Trump told a news conference, referring to media reports that his presidential campaign team had contacts with Russian intelligence officials, Reuters reported.

Trump, who frequently assailed the news media, also said he had not directed his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to talk to Russia's ambassador about US sanctions before taking office.

Trump said he had asked the Justice Department to look into the leaks of "classified information that was given illegally" to journalists regarding the relationship between his aides and Russia.

He also said he did not think that Russian President Vladimir Putin was taking actions that would test him early in his term in office.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that phone call records and intercepted calls showed members of Trump's presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the November 8 election in which Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

Democratic lawmakers challenged Republicans, who control Congress, on Thursday to conduct a credible investigation into contacts between Trump's associates and Russia. The process could take months and might never be made public.

Flynn, a close adviser to Trump during his campaign, was seen by Moscow as a leading advocate of warmer ties with Russia. Trump fired Flynn on Monday after the retired lieutenant general misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States, before Trump took office, regarding US sanctions on Moscow.

Trump forcefully defended Flynn's discussion with the Russian ambassador.

"What he did wasn't wrong," Trump told the news conference. "Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So, it certainly would have been OK with me if he did it ... I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him because that's his job," Trump said, who added the problem was Flynn's having misled Pence.

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