Disgraced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and several other members of President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign were in contact with Russian officials during the last seven months of the presidential election. At least 18 phone calls and emails that were previously undisclosed by the Trump campaign are now under review by the House and Senate intelligence committees, as well as the FBI, as part of their broader investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Three U.S. officials told Reuters that six of the previously undisclosed contacts were phone conversations between Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, and top Trump advisers, including Michael Flynn.
But things get even more shady yet. Apparently, according to four U.S. officials, the conversations between Kislyak and Flynn became more frequent following President Trump’s Electoral College victory. After November 8, the two men tried to establish ways for Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to communicate without drawing the attention of the U.S. national security bureaucracy.
Trump has long denied having any contacts with Russian officials during the campaign, even going so far as to state that he doesn’t even know Putin.
‘I don’t know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy – yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1 in terror, no problem!’
I don't know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy – yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1 in terror, no problem!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2017
Contrary to those claims, however, the White House has since confirmed four meetings between Kislyak and members of Trump’s campaign.
U.S. officials who informed Reuters of the contacts said they don’t believe any of the communications between Trump advisers and Russian officials such any evidence of wrongdoing, however, disclosing said conversations would warrant Senate, congressional, and FBI investigators to demand transcripts from those interactions.
The communications between members of the Trump camp and Russian officials occurred between April and November of 2016. The conversations reportedly pertained to improving U.S.-Russia relations that became strained under Obama-era sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Neither Flynn’s lawyer, the White House, nor a Russian foreign ministry official, would comment on the recent revelation. A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington said:
‘We do not comment on our daily contacts with the local interlocutors.’
On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that it appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Read the full report from Reuters here.
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