Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
Later, at a White House briefing for reporters, spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump “is frustrated … to see stories come out that are patently false, to see narratives that are wrong, to see, quote, unquote, fake news, when you see stories get perpetrated that are absolutely false, that are not based in fact.
“That is troubling,” Spicer added, “and he is rightly concerned.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump, has partly blamed Russian interference in the election for her defeat.
WATCH: Clinton on her election loss, Russian interference
But Trump has been dismissive of the investigations, even as his own Justice Department appointed a special counsel to probe whether his campaign aides colluded illegally with Russia, and several congressional panels have embarked on their own fact finding.
ABC News reported that congressional investigators had asked one of Trump’s closest confidants, his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to tell them about contacts he has had with people connected to the Russian government, but he said he turned down the invitation. Cohen told the television network the request was “poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered.”
Kushner’s back-channel communications
Trump’s Russia comment came as news reports continued to focus on Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, and his reported attempt to establish a back-channel communications link to Russian officials in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration in January.
Spicer deflected several questions about Kushner’s actions, telling one reporter his inquiry “presupposes facts that have not been confirmed.”
The White House is also bracing for the upcoming congressional testimony of former FBI chief James Comey. Trump fired Comey after allegedly asking him to drop the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his close ties to the Kremlin.
U.S. Senator John McCain, a key foreign affairs figure in Congress, said he views Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, as the “greatest challenge we have,” even more so than that posed by Islamic State terrorists.
Speaking during a visit to Australia, McCain told the Australian Broadcasting Company Russia has tried to “destroy the very fundamental of democracy” with efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election and others elsewhere in the world.
MCain voiced concerned about the Kushner effort to establish the secret link to Russia.
“I know that some administration officials are saying, ‘Well, that’s standard procedure,'” McCain said Monday. “I don’t think it is standard procedure prior to the inauguration of a president of the United States by someone who is not in an appointed position.”
The White House says Kushner “was acting in his capacity as a transition official,” and that he has agreed to discuss the meetings with congressional investigators.
Trump has rejected allegations his campaign colluded with Russia.
“Jared is doing a great job for the country,” Trump told The New York Times late Sunday. “I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person.”
The 36-year-old Kushner, a New York real estate executive before joining Trump’s White House staff, is married to Trump’s oldest daughter Ivanka, who is also a White House adviser.