As the FBI sifts through the accumulating troves of information in their investigation into links between President Donald Trump, his aides, and the Russian government, some damning evidence has just been uncovered; phone records and intercepted calls show President Trump’s campaign and other associates had repeated contact with Russian intelligence officials in the year leading up to the election.
According to four current and former American officials, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity due to this information being classified, one of the advisors picked up in the intercepted calls was Paul Manafort, President Trump’s campaign chairman at one stage and also a former consultant in Russia and Ukraine. So far, no further names have been released, however, the four officials claim the intercepted calls were not limited to campaign officials, but also included other Trump associates as well as members of the Russian government both inside and outside of the intelligence service. Mr Manafort has not been charged with any crimes so far and dismissed the claims as “absurd.”
Exact details about the phone calls have yet to be disclosed so it is currently unclear what was discussed, who was involved at the Russian end, how many calls were made or if they even actually had anything to do with Donald Trump or his Presidential campaign. What is known, however, is that these intercepted calls are not the same as the wiretapped calls between former national security advisor Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, that took place last year and led to Flynn’s resignation on Monday night.
Although the calls between Flynn and Kislyak revolved around the topic of the sanctions former President Barack Obama’s administration had imposed on Russia late last year, the FBI has declined to comment on this current batch of calls, captured as a result of routine electronic surveillance of the communications of foreign officials, which is conducted by American Intelligence and other law enforcement agencies.
At least three other associates of President Trump’s have been examined by the FBI in addition to Mr. Manafort; former foreign policy advisor to the campaign Carter Page, longtime Republican operative Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, although it is still unknown if their calls were intercepted too. All three men, however, have strongly denied that they had improper interactions with any Russian government officials.