Russia’s foreign minister mocks suggestion that Donald Trump worked for the Kremlin

Russia’s foreign minister mocks suggestion that Donald Trump worked for the Kremlin
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed claims that President Donald Trump has been working on the Kremlin’s behalf as he attacked Congress and the American media for undermining the U.S. leader.

“It’s hard for me to comment on what is happening in the U.S. surrounding accusations that President Trump is effectively a Russian agent,” Lavrov said at his annual press conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

He accused American media of “lowering their journalistic standards” in coverage of the issue and denounced U.S. lawmakers for challenging Trump’s right to conduct foreign policy. “This right is under attack from Congress and this doesn’t make these attacks constitutional or less illegal.”

This combination photo show Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. President Donald Trump. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images; Evan Vucci/AP

Trump said Monday that he “never worked for Russia” after reports that the FBI grew so concerned by his actions toward Moscow that they quietly began a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was working on its behalf.

Separately, Lavrov urged more dialogue in an effort to prevent the collapse of a key arms control treaty. The U.S. has said it will withdraw from the INF pact Feb. 2, after the expiry of a 60-day deadline for Russia to stop alleged violations, a senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday after talks with American officials in Geneva.

Lavrov also rejected suggestions that Russia would consider swapping Paul Whelan, the American detained in Moscow at the end of December on charges of espionage, for Russians in custody in the U.S. He said Whelan had been caught “red-handed” receiving classified information. Whelan’s family has denied he’s a spy.

With assistance from Irina Reznik.

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