Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians

Author

19 May, 2017

The FBI is investigating a conversation between former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak wherein they discussed establishing a back channel for communication between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that would circumvent the monitoring of US national security officials.

On Wednesday the Trump administration appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into allegations Russian Federation and Trump's campaign collaborated to influence the 2016 presidential election. Six of the contacts were phone calls with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

Phone calls between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak are at the centre of the reports, with an acceleration of contacts after the vote as the two allegedly sought to establish a back channel for Trump and opposite number Vladimir Putin.

According to a New York Times report released last night, the Trump team was aware that Flynn was under investigation for secretly working for the Turkish government, yet nonetheless brought him on board as national security adviser, a position wherein he'd be privy to the highest levels of classified information.

The 18 calls and electronic messages took place between April and November 2016 as hackers engaged in what U.S. intelligence concluded in January was part of a Kremlin campaign to discredit the vote and influence the outcome of the election in favour of Mr Trump over former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

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Three congressional committees, all led by Republicans, confirmed they wanted to hear from Comey, whose notes about a February meeting with the president indicate Trump urged him to drop the bureau's investigation of fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. But the Trump administration will likely face new scrutiny for not disclosing the conversations, as it has denied any collaboration with Russian Federation to influence last year's election. The contacts had been unearthed by the US intelligence community and had not been disclosed by the Trump administration, Reuters reports. Because when Mike Pence repeatedly said in January that there had been no contacts, he was either lying or he was revealing that he was a useful idiot who was being kept out of the loop by others involved with the campaign and transition. According to the report, Putin is godfather to Medvedchuk's daughter.

Medvedchuk denied having any contact with anyone in the Trump campaign.

Medvedchuk, in a email response to Reuters, said, "I am not acquainted with any of Donald Trump's close associates, therefore no such conversation could have taken place". According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released May 15, 59 percent of Americans, including a growing number of Republicans, want an independent investigation into the possible Trump connections with Russian Federation.

"They got so close during the campaign", an anonymous White House official told The Atlantic.

After Vice President Mike Pence and others had denied in January that Trump campaign representatives had any contact with Russian officials, the White House later confirmed that Kislyak had met twice with then-Senator Jeff Sessions, who later became attorney general.


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