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As President Donald Trump prepared for his first address to the U.S. Congress, the White House on Sunday sought to fend off the latest calls for an independent probe of Russian efforts to impact last year’s U.S. election and any ties between Moscow and the president’s inner circle.
“We are extremely confident that, whatever review, they are all going to come to the same conclusion: that we had no involvement in this [Russian electoral meddling],” said White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders on ABC’s This Week program.
Earlier, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California joined Democrats in calling for a special prosecutor insulated from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a close Trump confidant.
“Sessions … was on the campaign and was an appointee,” Issa said on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. “You’re going to have to use the special prosecutor’s statue and office to not just recuse [Sessions], you can’t give it to your deputy [either].
“We need to investigate their [Russian] activities and we need to do it because they are bad people,” the lawmaker added.
The White House said Americans have more pressing concerns.
“At some point we get to a place where we’ve got to move on and start focusing on the things that the American people care about,” Sanders said. “And I don’t think this is it. We’ve talked about it time and time and time again. Asked and answered.”
Democrats aren’t letting go.
“The attorney general must recuse himself,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, on This Week. “Let’s have the investigation and find out the truth.”
Several Republican-led congressional committees are already probing Russian activities, along with the Department of Justice.
However investigations unfold, Trump has not hid his anger about a controversy that refuses to die or the news media’s coverage of it.
“Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!” the president wrote Sunday on Twitter.
Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
U.S. intelligence services have concluded Russia intervened in the U.S. election by hacking into Democratic National Committee emails and leaking them, as well as pushing fake reports aimed at hurting the reputation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Earlier this month, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned following reports he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his frequent contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition period before Trump’s inauguration.