Trump dismisses aides’ alleged contacts with Russia as ‘fake news’

President Trump on Thursday dismissed reports of his campaign advisers’ contacts with Russians as “fake news.”

“You can talk all you want about Russia, which is all a fake news, [a] fabricated deal,” he said at a news conference at the White House. 

Asked whether he could definitively say none of his staff were in contact with Russia during the campaign, Trump replied, “Well, I have nothing to do with it.”

Pressed further, Trump said “nobody I know of.”

Trump also confirmed he asked his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to resign but insisted he did nothing wrong by speaking to Russia’s U.S. envoy about sanctions. 

{mosads}”I don’t think he did anything wrong. If anything he did something right,” he said. 

Trump insisted the “real story” is the intelligence community leaking information about Flynn’s conversations and details of the investigation into his campaign advisers. 

Trump’s comments follow a report from The New York Times on Tuesday night that said some Trump campaign staffers had repeated contacts with members of Russian intelligence. The report cited U.S. officials, but did not detail who was involved in those conversations.

The officials also said they had not seen evidence of collusion over the election.

Trump has hit back hard at the report, calling on the Times and other publications to apologize and insisting that the real issue is leaks from the intelligence community.

“Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years,” the president tweeted on Thursday. “Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!”

Trump also tweeted that those behind the leaks would be caught.

Trump’s potential ties with Russia also drew increased scrutiny after the resignation of Flynn earlier this week.

Flynn bowed out after reports he spoke with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. about sanctions before Trump’s inauguration and misled the White House, in particular Vice President Mike Pence, about those talks.

But the reports about Russia have also sparked concerns among those on Capitol Hill, including many Republicans.

Senate Republicans, though, say it is too soon to call for an independent probe into Trump or Flynn’s with Russia.

Democrats have pushed for such a probe in the House.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says that would be a matter for law enforcement, but has said his committee will probe any intelligence leaks.

This story was last updated at 2:06 p.m.

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