Diplo­mat says Rus­sia and Trump’s team kept in con­tact

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By David Filipov and Andrew Roth

MOSCOW — Rus­sian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials had con­tacts with mem­bers of Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign team, a se­nior Rus­sian diplo­mat said Thurs­day, in a dis­clo­sure that could re­open scru­tiny over the Krem­lin’s role in the pres­i­dent-elect’s bit­ter race against Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Fac­ing ques­tions about his ties to Moscow be­cause of state­ments in­ter­preted as laud­ing Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, Trump re­peat­edly de­nied hav­ing any con­tact with the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

In re­sponse, the spokes­woman for the Trump cam­paign, Hope Hicks, de­nied there were in­ter­ac­tions be­tween Rus­sia and the Trump team be­fore Tues­day’s election.

“The cam­paign had no con­tact with Rus­sian of­fi­cials,” she said in an email.

But Rus­sia’s Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Ryabkov, in an in­ter­view with the state-run In­ter­fax news agency, said that “there were con­tacts” with the Trump team.

“Ob­vi­ously, we know most of the peo­ple from his en­tourage,” Ryabkov said. “Those peo­ple have al­ways been in the lime­light in the United States and have oc­cu­pied high-rank­ing po­si­tions. I can­not say that all of them, but quite a few have been stay­ing in touch with Rus­sian rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

“We­have just be­gun to con­sider ways of build­ing di­a­logue with the fu­ture Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and chan­nels we The Trump cam­paign de­nies any con­tact with Vladimir Putin’s gov­ern­ment. will be us­ing for those pur­poses,” Ryabkov was quoted as say­ing.

There were no fur­ther de­tails given on the claimed con­tacts, in­clud­ing names in the Trump cam­paign or other specifics.

Asked for clar­i­fi­ca­tion about the meet­ings, For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Maria Zakharova coun­tered: “Are you paranoid?”

“It seems to me that you’re not far from hav­ing your own 1937,” she wrote in an elec­tronic mes­sage, in a ref­er­ence to the height of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s purges. “They’ll be putting peo­ple in prison as Rus­sian spies.”

In ear­lier com­ments to Bloomberg News, Zakharova said that Rus­sian Em­bassy staff met with mem­bers of Trump’s cam­paign, which she de­scribed as “nor­mal prac­tice.” Demo­cratic Party con­tender Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign re­fused sim­i­lar re­quests for meet­ings, she told the agency.

SERGEI KARPUKHIN/AP

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