US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has had no impact on his work with overseas counterparts, the media reported.
“It has had no impact,” Tillerson told CNN in an interview on Friday. “I’ll say that it’s had none.”
Tillerson’s statement contradicts President Donald Trump, who told The New York Times last month that the investigation “makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position”.
“It never comes up in our conversations or in my bilats or my dialogues with world leaders elsewhere.
“The domestic issues around the Russia involvement in our elections are not part of our dialogue elsewhere… I think the rest of the world recognises it is a domestic issue, it’s an important one.”
During the interview, Tillerson discussed the challenges of the US’ relationship with Russia, now intractably complicated by the ongoing investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and by multiple congressional committees.
“It has been a difficult year with Russia,” Tillerson told CNN.
“I’ve said clearly, the President stated clearly, our two nations should have a more productive relationship. Today it’s very strained for all reasons that I think the American people well understand.”
Despite that, Tillerson said, “we have maintained a constant engagement with Russia, very active engagement”.
The Secretary of State said that when he does talk to the Russians, he raises the issue of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election campaign, but “it brings them no benefits”.
Asked if he thinks Russia will meddle again in November’s midterm elections, the Tillerson told CNN that there was no evidence of that yet.
“I hope they don’t… But we do know that Russia has involved themselves in other (European) elections.”