U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 (screenshot)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 (screenshot)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz strongly defended President Donald Trump Sunday following a report by the New York Times that the president’s firing of former FBI Direction James Comey was designed to benefit Russia.

Cruz said Trump’s record as president has been much tougher on Russia and Vladimir Putin that his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The report by the Times said Comey’s firing triggered a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was wittingly or unwittingly working to benefit Russia.

“When you get outside the Beltway, I don’t see anyone concerned about this at all,” the Texas Republican said. “If you compare objectively, President Trump’s policies to Russia compared to President Obama’s policies to Russia — by any measure, President Obama was much easier, was much more gentler on Russia.”

Trump criticized the New York Times story in a Saturday morning tweet, and called the accusation he might be working to advance Russian interests “insulting” during a Saturday night interview on the Fox News show hosted by ally Jeanine Pirro.

The president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also dismissed the report arguing “they obviously found nothing or else they would have reported it.”

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