Trump: I have been tougher on Russia that any other president

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE claimed Saturday that he has been "far tougher" on Russia's government than his predecessors, hours after a bombshell New York Times report revealed that the FBI opened an investigation in 2017 into whether Trump was working for Russia.

In a tweet posted Saturday morning, the president argued that it was right to seek positive relations with Russia, while arguing that his administration had confronted Moscow on the global stage more than the previous three administrations.

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"I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton," Trump tweeted. "Maybe tougher than any other President."

"At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing," he went on. "I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!"

Trump's claim that he has taken stronger positions on Russia than his predecessors echoed a statement released by the White House on Friday night pushing back on the Times's story.

The Trump administration faced a rocky relationship with Russia for most of 2018, especially in the latter half of the year when the U.S. imposed new sanctions on a dozen individuals related to Russia's annexation of Crimea, a territory in Ukraine.

Earlier in the year, however, the U.S.-Russia relationship appeared headed in a different direction following a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, after which Trump shocked many in Washington by appearing to agree with Russia's explanation for election meddling in 2016 over the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The president later walked those words back following a storm of controversy, claiming to have misstated his conclusion on whether Russia was involved in the hack of Democratic organizations during the 2016 presidential election.

On Friday, the Times reported that FBI agents opened an investigation shortly after Trump fired James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWashington in frenzy over release of Mueller report Ten post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators GOP senators double down on demand for Clinton email probe documents MORE, the FBI director leading the probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, to determine whether Trump was directly working on behalf of Putin in the United States.