Donald Trump rejects accusations of Russia collusion


FLORIDA: US President Donald Trump has denied any collusion between his campaign for the 2016 US presidential election and Russia, amid an ongoing federal investigation into alleged links between the two, according to a Al Jazeera .

Speaking to the New York Times in an interview published late on Thursday, Trump instead alleged it was the opposition Democrats who had colluded with Moscow, without presenting any evidence to back up his accusation.

“There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats,” Trump said when asked about the on-going investigation led by former FBI director Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the election.

“There was no collusion with respect to my campaign,” Trump added.

The investigation has so far charged several senior former Trump aides with offences that include conspiracy against the United States and making false statements.

In October, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and his associate Rick Gates were arrested and charged on 12 counts, none directly related to the 2016 campaign.

US media attention on Manafort has focused on a meeting he had with Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and a Russian government lawyer who claimed to have incriminating information on 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

This month, Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to making false statements with regards to a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the US before Trump took office in January.

In July 2016, Trump publicly asked Moscow for help in finding emails belonging to Clinton during her time as US secretary of state.

China and immigration

The New York Times published an incomplete transcript of the interview, in which Trump also addressed alleged Chinese help for North Korea and his plans to cut immigration.

On China and North Korea, Trump doubled down on a tweet he posted on Thursday, accusing China of sending oil to Pyongyang.

“I hate to say, it was reported this morning, and it was reported on Fox. Oil is going into North Korea. That wasn’t my deal!” Trump said, adding that he wanted China to toughen its stance on the nuclear-armed state.

Trump was similarly bullish on immigration, citing a recent attack inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in New York to justify stricter measures on who the US allows into the country.

“They take the worst people in the country, they put ’em into the lottery, and then they have a handful of bad, worse ones and they put them out.”

Those comments came shortly after another New York Times report, citing anonymous White House officials, in which Trump allegedly blamed US immigration policy for allowing in too many Haitians who “all have AIDS” and Nigerians who would never “go back to their huts”.

The White House has denied that Trump made the “outrageous” remarks.

Trump was elected on a hard-right populist platform, including pledges to build a wall on the US-Mexican border to prevent immigration and to ban Muslims from entering the US.