Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians
- Author: Rogelio Becker May 19, 2017,
May 19, 2017, 4:49
Reuters reported Thursday that three current and former officials, their identities left unreported, have admitted to knowing of an additional 18 phone calls and emails that transpired between various members of the Trump organization and Russian officials have been added to the evidence being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the congressional probes into the known Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the series of previously undisclosed contacts between Russia and various members of the Trump campaign and administration.
The conversations began in April 2016, sources told the news service, months before Trump even secured the Republican nomination for President. Trump and his aides have repeatedly denied any collusion with Russian Federation.
Trump is responding to the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead a probe of allegations that his campaign collaborated with Russian Federation to sway the election.
The other 12 calls, emails, or texts concerned themes such as U.S. -Russia cooperation, according to the sources who spoke to Reuters. However, officials can request that they be revealed for intelligence purposes.
The back-channel communication was set up so the two sides could work around bureaucratic regulations, Reuters reported.
".there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity". Meetings with Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, are what sparked the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in February.
"It's rare to have that many phone calls to foreign officials, especially to a country we consider an adversary or a hostile power", Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state, said to Reuters.
Flynn, a retired general, was forced by the president to resign after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about conversations he'd had with Kislyak, in which he allegedly discussed the lifting of USA sanctions on Russian Federation.
President Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House on May 10, 2017.
Following Trump's election, Flynn and Kislyak heightened the pace of their communications.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN in March that the diplomat also met with "people working in think tanks advising Hillary or advising people working for Hillary", however. The White House and advisers to the campaign have since confirmed four meetings between Kislyak and Trump advisers during that time. According to the report, Putin is godfather to Medvedchuk's daughter. This was exhibited by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions not informing the Congress during his confirmation hearings that he had had contacts with Russian officials, even when he was directly questioned if such contacts had taken place.
Trump appeared to be taking it badly.
In the conversations during the campaign, Russian officials emphasised a pragmatic, business-style approach and stressed to Trump associates that they could make deals by focusing on common economic and other interests and leaving contentious issues aside, the sources said.