At least 14 Trump associates interacted with Russians during election: Report
Iran Press TV
Mon Dec 10, 2018 02:32PM
Russian citizens made contact with at least 14 associates of US President Donald Trump during his 18-month election campaign and presidential transition period, according to reports in US media.
The Russians included Moscow's ambassador to Washington, a deputy prime minister, a weightlifter, a lawyer and a Soviet army veteran with alleged intelligence ties, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
The Russian citizens also made contact with Trump's closest family and friends, as well as figures on the periphery of his orbit, the newspaper said, citing public records and interviews.
They offered to help Trump's election campaign and his real estate business, while others offered dirt on his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
The Russian nationals also suggested Trump should hold a peacemaking meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"It is extremely unusual," said Michael McFaul, who served as ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama. "Both the number of contacts and the nature of the contacts are extraordinary."
The number of known interactions has grown since last year, when The Washington Post tallied that at least nine Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the campaign or presidential transition.
The president's oldest children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, interacted with Russians who were offering to help the candidate.
Ivanka's husband, top campaign adviser Jared Kushner, as well as Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his personal lawyer Michael Cohen and his longest-serving political adviser, Roger Stone, also had contact with Russian nationals.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to evading taxes and violating election finance laws. He has also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of lying to Congress over matters related to the Russia investigation.
Former officials involved in past White House races told the Post that so much interplay with representatives of a foreign adversary is highly unusual.
The report comes as new court documents filed in the past two weeks by prosecutors in the office of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed the Russian outreach was more extensive than previously known.
Mueller, however, has not yet shown that any of the dozens of interactions between people in Trump's orbit and Russians resulted in any specific coordination between his presidential campaign and Russia.
Trump has repeatedly denied that people close to him coordinated with Russia, calling Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt."
Moscow has also denied any interference in US elections.
Members of the Democratic Party in Congress and other Trump critics fear that newly appointed acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, a Trump loyalist, could fire Mueller or undermine the investigation by cutting off its funding.
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