Russian politicians and intelligence officials sought to influence the US election and Donald Trump
The Kremlin’s operatives were reportedly confident they could use relationships with Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign manager, and Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor, as leverage over the US President.
The intercepted conversations allegedly include Russians boasting that they knew Mr Flynn really well and also direct communications between Mr Trump’s advisers and Russian officials.
I was convinced in the summer that the Russians were trying to interfere in the election
Former CIA Director
Both Mr Flynn and Mr Manafort have denied any collusion with the Russian government during the US election campaign.
It clarifies reports earlier this month that the FBI are investigating previously undisclosed information that allegedly confirms contact between the President’s campaign team and Moscow.
Donald Trump meets Pope Francis in the Vatican
Wed, May 24, 2017
Donald Trump met Pope Francis for a private audience in the Vatican
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The Pope and the US President exchange gifts
Sources claimed that individuals connected with the Trump campaign may have been co-ordinating with the Russians as far back as April 2016, seven months before the Presidential election.
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John Brennan, the former CIA Director, testified to the House intelligence committee on Tuesday.
Mr Brennan said: “I was convinced in the summer that the Russians were trying to interfere in the election. And they were very aggressive.”
The spies who provided the recent details about the Russian discussions were granted anonymity by the New York Times, but top officials have spoken broadly about the investigation previously.
The former spy chief added: “It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process and that they undertook these activities despite our strong protests and explicit warning that they do not do so.
“[I had] unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting US persons, involved in the campaign or not, to work on their behalf again either in a witting or unwitting fashion”.
Flynn in under investigation by the FBI regrading possible links to Russia
Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, has now been appointed as special counsel to oversee the inquiry into links between Mr Trump’s election campaign and Russia.
Mr Trump said in a previous statement that “a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.”
Former CIA director testified to the House Intelligence committee
He added that the whole debacle is a “witch hunt” and described calls for impeachment by the Democrats as “ridiculous”.
In January, Vice President Mike Pence denied the notion that anyone had been in contact with Russian officials during the Presidential campaign.
US Vice-President Mike Pence's visit to Asia in pictures
Thu, April 20, 2017
US Vice President Mike Pence is on a ten-day visit to Asia
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Nasarudin Umar (L) and Muhammad Muzammil Basyuni (R) show the Istiqlal grand mosque to US Vice President Mike Pence in Jakarta
He said: “Of course not, I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumours that have swirled around the candidacy.”
US intelligence services have concluded that Russian hackers attempted to influence the Presidential election campaign to discredit Hillary Clinton and affect the result.