By Mark Hosenball and Matt ApuzzoAssociated PressPublished Aug. 23, 2018 10:40:22AUSTIN (AP) Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Tuesday that Russia has “very, very high standards” for who it can hire for its foreign intelligence service, a comment that could be a source of friction with Democrats who are pressing for a full-scale investigation of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In an interview with Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” Trump said that he was not familiar with the Russian spy service and that he has “great confidence” in Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The comments could fuel the Russia-related debate over whether Democrats can win the White House in November and could complicate efforts by Republicans to get Republicans to sign on to a resolution of impeachment against Trump.
“I think we have great confidence in Putin,” Trump told the Fox News show.
“I think he has a very, very good sense of what he wants to do with Russia.”
In the interview, Trump also took aim at U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who had been criticized by Republicans for her handling of the Syrian crisis, calling her “the worst diplomat in the world” who has “no clue what’s going on.”
Trump said that while he respects her leadership role, Haley should be given a chance to get back to work, even though the U.
Ns. envoy’s visit to Syria was canceled because of the humanitarian crisis in the country.
Haley was due to travel to the Middle East next week to participate in a U. Nations conference on Syria, which is slated to be attended by more than 100 countries.
She is scheduled to attend the opening session at the United Nations General Assembly on Aug. 25.
She has not responded to requests for comment.
Harmonix CEO Greg Wohlgemuth, who will be traveling with Haley to Syria next week, said on a conference call with investors Tuesday that the trip was canceled after Haley cancelled the visit to help address the humanitarian situation in Syria.
“She’s doing it for her own reasons, she’s doing this for her country, for her constituents, for the sake of Syria,” Wohlgemuth said.
“It’s a very different situation than what we’ve been dealing with.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to requests to comment.
Democrats have long called for an investigation into Russian interference in the election.
The Trump-Russia investigation has become a political football after Trump’s campaign has been engulfed in a series of scandals.
Trump has said the election was rigged and blamed Russia for hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
Democrats and Republicans have repeatedly sparred over whether they should go after Trump personally or investigate the Russian intelligence services.
They also have differed over whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to oversee the Russia probe.
Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, said last week that he expects U.K. and U.U. countries to investigate the alleged Russian meddling.
U.A.E. President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday he was willing to join the investigation but said there should be a full investigation.