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

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump claims he has been "far tougher" on Russia than past presidents, following new revelations about a 2017 FBI probe into whether he was working for the Russian government.

Reacting to a New York Times report on Friday about the FBI investigation, Trump further argued in a Saturday Tweet that it was right to seek positive relations with Russia, while insisting that his administration had confronted Moscow on the global stage more than the previous three administrations.

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

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

The New York-based daily reported that FBI agents opened a probe shortly after Trump fired James Comey, the FBI director that was leading a probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia to determine whether the US presidential nominee at the time was directly working on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States.

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

The Trump administration faced a shaky relationship with Moscow for most of 2018, especially in the latter half of the year when Washington imposed new sanctions on a dozen individuals related to Russia's alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis.

Earlier in the year, however, the US-Russia ties appeared headed in a different direction following a summit between Trump and Putin in Helsinki, after which Trump shocked many in Washington by appearing to agree with Moscow’s explanation for election meddling in 2016 over the conclusion of US intelligence agencies.

The president later retracted his words after a storm of controversy, claiming to have misstated his conclusion on whether Moscow was involved in the hack of Democratic Party organizations during the 2016 presidential poll.

The development came amid a new report by the Washington Post daily alleging that Trump had also concealed meeting with Putin from administration officials on multiple instances.

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