Donald Trump

Top Democrat and Putin shared doughnuts 14 years ago and Trump wants an investigation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 March, 2017, 2:14pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 March, 2017, 10:01pm

US President Donald Trump is firing back at the top Senate Democrat calling for an investigation into his administration’s alleged Kremlin ties - by tweeting out pictures of him hobnobbing with Russian President Vladimir Putin almost 14 years ago.

Trump’s evidence? A photo of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Putin holding coffee and doughnuts in a New York City petrol station.

“We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!” Trump wrote in a tweet posted to both his personal and presidential accounts Friday afternoon.

Trump did not say where the photo came from, but Schumer quickly pointed out that it was taken in 2003 when Putin ventured to New York to celebrate the opening of a Russian-owned Lukoil gas station on Manhattan’s west side.

Several news organisations covered that event, which drew far more political star power than the average gas station opening.

“Happily talk re: my contact w Mr. Putin & his associates, took place in ‘03 in full view of press & public under oath. Would you &your team?” Schumer tweeted.

The spat is taking place barely a day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from all Justice Department proceedings having to do with the Trump campaign, after it was revealed that he met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice - but did not disclose those meetings to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing.

Sessions is only the latest member of the Trump team whose ties to Kremlin officials have been brought to light in recent months, as congressional committees and the FBI dig into allegations of contacts between Russia and campaign officials during the 2016 elections. Trump administration officials have accused Democrats and the press of a witch hunt.

Later Friday, Trump added House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to the list of Democratic leaders whom he believes should be investigated over Russia ties. He tweeted an article about Pelosi’s 2010 meeting with Kislyak, which came a day after Pelosi told reporters that she had never met Kislyak.

“I hereby demand a second investigation, after Schumer, of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia, and lying about it,” Trump tweeted.

It is not improper for elected officials to meet with foreign diplomats.

Trump’s White House has been battered by questions about his links to Russia, quashing any sort of political momentum he had earned from his highly praised address to Congress earlier this week.

Several other Trump allies have also faced questions about their ties to Russia, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was ousted last month for misleading White House officials about his conversations with Kislyak before Trump took office.

Additional reporting by Associated Press