Trump Cam­paign Had Con­tacts With Rus­sian In­tel­li­gence: Re­port

US agen­cies in­ter­cepted calls be­tween Rus­sian spies and Trump’s cam­paign team, says NYT

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

Wash­ing­ton: Phone records and in­ter­cepted calls show that mem­bers of Don­ald Trump’s 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and other Trump as­so­ci­ates had re­peated con­tacts with se­nior Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials in the year be­fore the elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to four cur­rent and for­mer US of­fi­cials.

US law en­force­ment and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies in­ter­cepted the com­mu­ni­ca­tions around the same time they were dis­cov­er­ing ev­i­dence that Rus­sia was try­ing to dis­rupt the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion by hack­ing into the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, three of the of­fi­cials said. The in­tel­li­gence agen­cies then sought to learn whether the Trump cam­paign was col­lud­ing with the Rus­sians on the hack­ing or other ef­forts to in­flu­ence the elec­tion.

The of­fi­cials in­ter­viewed in re­cent weeks­saidthat,so­far,they­had­seen no ev­i­dence of such co­op­er­a­tion. But the in­ter­cepts alarmed US in­tel­li­gence and law en­force­ment agen­cies, in part be­cause of the amount of con­tact that was oc­cur­ring while Trump was speak­ing glow­ingly about the Rus­sian pres­i­dent, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last sum­mer, Trump said at a cam­paign event that he hoped Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence ser­vices had stolen Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails and would make them pub­lic.

The of­fi­cials said the in­ter­cepted com­mu­ni­ca­tions were not limited to Trump cam­paign of­fi­cials and in­cluded other as­so­ci­ates of Trump. On the Rus­sian side, the con­tacts also in­cluded mem­bers of the gov­ern­ment out­side of the in­tel­li­gence ser- vices, the of­fi­cials said. All of the cur­rent and for­mer of­fi­cials spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the con­tin­u­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion is clas­si­fied.

The of­fi­cials said that one of the ad­vis­ers picked up on the calls was Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s cam­paign chair­man for sev­eral months last year and had worked as a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant in Ukraine. The of­fi­cials de­clined to iden­tify the other Trump as­so­ci­ates on the calls.

The call logs and in­ter­cept­ed­com­mu­ni­ca­tions are part of a larger trove of in­for­ma­tion that the FBI is sift­ing through as it in­ves­ti­gates the links be­tween Trump’s a s s o c i at e s a nd t he Rus­sian gov­ern­ment, as well as the hack­ing of the DNC, ac­cord­ing to federal law en­force­ment offi- cials. As part of its in­quiry, the FBI has ob­tained bank­ing and travel records and con­ducted in­ter­views, the of­fi­cials said. Manafort, who has not been charged with any crimes, dis­missed the ac­counts of the US of­fi­cials in a tele­phone in­ter­view on Tues­day. “This is ab­surd,” he said. “I have no idea what this is re­fer­ring to. I have never know­ingly spo­ken to Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers, and I have never been i nvolv e d wit h a nyt hi ng to do with the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment or the Putin ad­min­is­tra­tion or any other is­sues un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion to­day.”

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