Politics

Officials: FBI Info May Link Trump Team To Russia

| by Michael Doherty

The FBI may have information indicating that members of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign staff colluded with the Russian government during the campaign, according to a new report from CNN.

The news organization reported on March 22 that the FBI has information to suggest that associates of Trump "communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign," NY Magazine reports.

U.S. officials are reported to have confirmed that the FBI is reviewing the information, including "human intelligence, travel, business and phone records, and accounts of in-person meetings."

Officials have disagreed, however, on the implications of the evidence. One law enforcement official reportedly said that the intelligence indicated that "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." But other officials are reported to have said that it is "premature" to come to that conclusion yet.

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The evidence is, in part, what FBI director James Comey had reportedly been referring to when he announced on March 20 that the bureau is investigating the Trump campaign's possible link to Russia, according to WPIX.

Come said in his statement that the FBI was investigating the campaign's Russia ties because it had found "a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power."

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Russia's Kremlin, dismissed the CNN reports, saying that Russia would not comment on intelligence from unknown sources.

"This is another piece of information without any sources which can't be commented on, neither can it be taken as some serious thing," Peskov said.

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The White House has not commented on CNN's report about the information.

After Comey's announcement of the investigation, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that there was no evidence to suggest that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to influence the election.

"Investigating it and proving it are two different things," Spicer said.

In the same week, former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort was linked to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, with whom Manafort reportedly signed a $10 million annual contract in 2006 with the suggestion that Manafort could influence politics, news coverage, and business deals in order to "greatly benefit the Putin Government," AP reports.

Spicer said that Trump had not been aware of Manafort's work with Deripaska: "I don't know what he got paid to do." Spicer added that there was "no suggestion he did anything improper."

U.S. officials reportedly said that the newly revealed information did not come from the previously leaked intelligence dossier that suggested coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

Sources: WPIX, CNN, NY Magazine, AP / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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