Members of President Donald Trump's campaign were reportedly in contact with Russians during the campaign, further fueling the long, ongoing speculation that the Russian government influenced the 2016 presidential campaign.
Anonymous U.S. intelligence sources told The New York Times that several calls between Trump aides to unnamed Russians were intercepted by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Three of the anonymous intelligence sources said the calls were intercepted around the time they were investigating hacking of the Democratic National Committee's server, in which Russian intelligence has long been the main suspect.
The Russians aides talked to included government officials and private citizens, according to CNN.
But while the rumor that Russian intelligence helped Trump win the election has been a major point of national interest for nearly one year, the U.S. intelligence sources said they still have yet to see evidence of such cooperation.
All of the names of Trump aides in contact with Russians have not been released. But two names are Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as well as former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Manafort worked as a political consultant for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine before joining the Trump team and later resigned because of Russia rumors. Flynn resigned on Feb. 13 after leaks that he spoke to a Russian ambassador before Trump took office.
"This is absurd," Manafort told The New York Times. "I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today."
Flynn said he did nothing wrong and that the decision to force his resignation was due to political pressure.
"If I did, believe me, the FBI would be down my throat, my clearances would be pulled," he told The Daily Caller. "There were no lines crossed.”
Trump also shot back at the continued rumors about Russian interference.
"This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign," Trump tweeted.