On Thursday, Reuters released an exclusive report that said Michael Flynn and other Trump campaign advisors called or emailed Russian officials or others with Russian ties at least 18 times between April and November 2016.
Six of the 18 contacts were between Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the USA, and campaign officials, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn. They had agreed that the channel would have to bypass the USA national security community, reportedly because they believed those officials would hinder the president's agenda to improve relations with Russian Federation.
Trump and other top White House officials have denied collusion took place..
On Jan. 26, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned White House Counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn had not been forthcoming to the White House about his contacts with Kislyak.
While the current and former American officials who reported this to Reuters say that they have not seen evidence of criminal activity in the communications themselves, the fact that these exchanges contradict the Trump campaign's initial version of events inevitably arouses suspicion and increases the desire for a full account of the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The 18 calls and electronic messages took place between April and November 2016 as hackers engaged in what U.S. intelligence concluded in January was part of a Kremlin campaign to discredit the vote and influence the outcome of the election in favour of Trump over his Democratic challenger, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
On Feb. 14, Trump allegedly asked former FBI director James Comey during a private meeting to drop the bureau's investigation into Flynn.
Sources told Reuters that the conversations mostly focused on strengthening U.S. Mueller will head the FBI investigation that began last July. But the Trump administration will likely face new scrutiny for not disclosing the conversations, as it has denied any collaboration with Russian Federation to influence last year's election.
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The other dozen calls, emails and text messages were with other members of the Trump campaign and people considered close to Putin. According to the report, Putin is godfather to Medvedchuk's daughter. And throughout it all, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook would neither confirm nor deny contact between the Clinton camp and the Kremlin.
In the conversations during the campaign, Russian officials emphasised a pragmatic, business-style approach and stressed to Trump associates that they could make deals by focusing on common economic and other interests and leaving contentious issues aside, the sources said.
Over the last several months, leaks have revealed that the Trump campaign had numerous contacts with Russian Federation prior to the election and immediately after.
"It's rare to have that many phone calls to foreign officials, especially to a country we consider an adversary or a hostile power", Richard Armitage, a deputy Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, told Reuters. However, officials can request that they be revealed for intelligence purposes.
The identities of other Russian or Trump advisers who were in contact are being kept under wraps in intelligence reports due to privacy laws.
USA and allied intelligence and law enforcement agencies routinely monitor communications and movements of Russian officials.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had previously warned the White House that Flynn was in a compromised position when it came to Russian Federation.