Speed Reads

Just say no

Trump's aides reportedly wish he had denied being a Russian agent on Fox News

President Trump's weekend was spent "largely alone at the White House, irked by a pair of startling Russia headlines, and baffled that he's not getting more credit for staying put during the partial government shutdown," The Associated Press reports. Along with prolific tweeting, Trump called in to Fox News host Jeanine Pirro's Saturday night show. The decision to call into Fox News, with just a few hours' notice, "surprised his aides," AP said, and they had some regrets about his conversation.

Trump pushed back against a Washington Post report that he'd gone to great lengths to keep his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin secret, even from top aides, but "White House aides expressed regret that the president did not more clearly and forcefully deny being a Russian agent when asked by the usually friendly Fox News host, according to three White House aides and Republicans close to the White House," AP reports.

Pirro asked Trump if he is or has ever worked for Russia, pointing to a New York Times report that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence operation soon after his inauguration because they became concerned he was a Russian asset, witting or unwitting. "I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked," Trump told Pirro. "I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written, and if you read the article you'll see that they found absolutely nothing." He did not directly address her question.

In Sunday's Washington Post, columnist Max Boot took a stab, listing 18 bits of evidence Trump could be a Russian asset and concluding, "If Trump isn't actually a Russian agent, he is doing a pretty good imitation of one." At Politico, Strobe Talbott, a deputy secretary of state under Bill Clinton and a Russia expert, lays out his case that "Trump has been colluding with a hostile Russia throughout his presidency. We'll see if it started before that."