FBI Director Christopher Wray affirmed on Wednesday that he is confident in the assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and said Moscow is still working to sow discord in the United States.
Russia is using propaganda and fake news items to "spin up" Americans, Wray said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, and he brushed off Russian President Vladimir Putin's idea of having his country help U.S. authorities investigate 12 Russian military intelligence officials indicted last week on hacking charges. The offer is "not high on our list of investigative techniques," Wray said. Catherine Garcia
During an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson that aired Tuesday night, President Trump said he's been thinking about the different ways Russia assisted the United States in the past.
During World War II, "Russia lost 50 million people and helped us win the war," he said. "I was just saying to myself the other day, you know, Russia really helped us. I'm not pro-Russia, pro-anybody, I just want to have this country be safe." He doesn't "want nuclear weapons, even people thinking about it," he added. "Russia and the United States control 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world, and getting along with Russia, and not only for that reason, is a good thing, not a bad thing."
Carlson asked Trump if Russia is "our chief adversary," and Trump said they have a "strong military" but their economy is "much smaller than China. I don't even want to use the term 'adversary.' We can all work together, we can do great, everybody can do well, and we can live in peace." Watch more of the interview in the video below. Catherine Garcia
Carter Page, President Trump's former foreign policy adviser, told CNN Thursday that during his more than six hours privately testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee, he revealed that in June 2016, he told Attorney General Jeff Sessions he was taking a trip to Moscow.
Sessions was a senator at the time, and during Senate hearings in June and September this year, he denied knowing anything about Trump campaign surrogates communicating with Russians; he was specifically asked if Page met with Russian officials during the campaign, and he said, "I don't know." Page told CNN he mentioned the trip to Sessions in passing, following a dinner in Washington, and claims this jaunt had nothing to do with his role in the campaign. "Understandably, it was as irrelevant then as it is now," he said. "If it weren't for that dodgy dossier and all the chaos that those complete lies had created, my passing comment's complete lack of relevance should go without saying."
CNN spoke with another person familiar with the dinner, attended by members of Trump's national security team, who said Page greeted Sessions and told him he was going to Russia; Sessions said nothing and moved on to shake hands with someone else. Republican and Democratic lawmakers told CNN that Page's testimony on Thursday was "confusing" and "contradictory," and a transcript will be released to the public next week. Catherine Garcia
At a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, on Thursday night, President Trump thanked the audience in front of him for his election victory last year, saying: "We didn't win because of Russia, we won because of you. Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?"
He also called the "Russian story" a "total fabrication. It is just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That's all it is." Trump did not comment on any of the reports about Special Counsel Robert Mueller impaneling a grand jury in Washington, D.C., as part of the Russia probe, but did say he hopes Mueller's investigation will be "an honest one" because that's what "the millions of people who gave us our big win in November deserve and what all Americans who want a better future want and deserve."
Speaking in coal country, Trump said he kept his campaign promise to the people of West Virginia by ending the "war on beautiful, clean coal. We have stopped the EPA intrusion. American coal exports are already up." Trump's trip to West Virginia makes sense — his poll numbers, low nationally and across most of the country, are highest in West Virginia, according to a July Gallup poll in which 60 percent of residents approved of his presidency. Catherine Garcia