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Trump dismisses Russia controversy

The Associated Press

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference Thursday in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. President 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.

Trump, who has 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 U.S. 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.

Trump, who took office on Jan. 20 and has voiced support for improved ties with Russia, added he personally had no business deals in that country.

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 Nov. 8 election in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Pressed by reporters about whether he was aware if any member of his presidential campaign team had contacts with Russia before the election, the Republican president said,“Nobody that I know of.”Speech

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