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Trump says claims of Russia contacts are ‘fake news’

February 16, 2017

US President Donald Trump on Thursday vehemently dismissed the uproar over his administration’s and election campaign’s alleged ties with Russia, saying there is nothing to the allegations.

“Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia,” Trump said at a rambling press conference, his first on his own since taking office.

Trump attacked the media mercilessly and decried press leaks that led to the ouster of his national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn stepped down after it was revealed he misled the administration over pre-inauguration talks he held with the Russian ambassador about sanctions imposed by Barack Obama against Moscow.

Trump defended Flynn, even though he accepted his resignation Monday night, saying he had done nothing wrong in talking to the diplomat.

“He’s doing the job. He was just doing his job,” Trump said.

Trump said he had asked the Justice Department to investigate intelligence leaks that led to Flynn’s fall.

Calling them “criminal leaks,” Trump said they were put out by “people in the agencies.”

“We’re looking at them very serious. I’ve gone to all of the folks in charge of the various agencies, and we’re — I’ve actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks.”

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.