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MOSCOW — Russian government officials conferred with with members of Donald Trump’s campaign team, a senior Russian diplomat said Thursday, a disclosure that could reopen scrutiny over the Kremlin’s role in the president-elect’s bitter race against Hillary Clinton.
The statement came from Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, who said in an interview with the state-run Interfax news agency that “there were contacts” with the Trump team.
“Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Ryabkov said.
“We have just begun to consider ways of building dialogue with the future Donald Trump administration and channels we will be using for those purposes,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
Ryabkov provided no further details, and his remarks drew a swift denial from Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who said the campaign had “no contact with Russian officials” before Tuesday’s election.
"There were contacts" with influential people close to Trump, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency on Thursday. "I don't say that all of them, but a whole array of them, supported contacts with Russian representatives."
Another influential Russian, pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov, also denied allegations of Russian interference in the election, but said “maybe we helped a bit with WikiLeaks,” the Guardian reported.
The night before the election, I reported that in October the FBI sought, and was granted, a secret FISA court warrant giving U.S. counter-intelligence agents permission to examine the activities of “U.S. persons” in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.
Counterintelligence sources now further tell me that US intelligence has gained legal permission to look at transcripts of phone conversations that were held by Trump advisor Carter Page while he was in Russia in July.
Mr. Page, as reported by Heat Street in July, said he was in Russia as a private individual giving an academic lecture. He also met with some Russian officials, including the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Arkady Dvorkovich. These meetings were at the time couched as private ones — not official contacts between the campaign and the Russian government. Russian media were skeptical of that explanation at the time.
Trump’s team, however, on Thursday flatly denied the new reports, according to the Wall Street Journal. Asked if Mr. Ryabkov’s comments were accurate, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said “absolutely not”.
Mr. Ryabkov’s statement to Russian news agency Interfax that “Russian representatives” were “staying in touch” with the Trump “entourage” appear to my counter-intelligence sources to be an effort to make covert contacts now look like routine communications. But my source speculate that Mr. Ryabkov’s statement actually an indication that Russia sought to use people in the Trump camp as so-called “agents of influence”.
My counter-intelligence sources also suggest that, by openly acknowledging Russian contacts with the Trump campaign, the Kremlin may be looking to “throw Trump under the bus” … exposing his camp to further FBI investigations about its ties to Russia and weakening his new administration.
originally posted by: drewlander
What is the problem here?
her campaign was deliberately creating a "boogeyman"
The disconnect is real.