Top Russian officials have dismissed allegations that U.S. President Donald Trump could have worked for Moscow's interests, calling them "absurd" and "stupid."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference on January 16 that U.S. media reports on the matter reflect a drastic plunge in standards of journalism.
The New York Times reported last week that after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in 2017, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was working for Russian interests.
That firing resulted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's appointment to conduct a probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether associates of Trump colluded with Moscow.
The Washington Post reported that Trump has sought to conceal the details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Post report said that on one occasion, Trump took the notes made by his interpreter and ordered the interpreter not to discuss what happened with other administration officials.
Trump said this week that he never acted in Russia's favor and repeated his claim that the investigation into his ties to Moscow is a hoax.
Separately, Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yury Ushakov, also derided the notion that Trump might have worked for Russian interests.
"What kind of nonsense are you asking about?" Ushakov snapped when asked if Trump was a Russian agent. "How can one comment on such a stupid thing? It has reached such a scale that it's awkward to even talk about it."
"How can a president of the United States be an agent of another country, just think yourself," Ushakov said at a briefing.
Ushakov said that Russia-U.S. relations are currently at a level that "can't be worse."