Four current and former American officials have spoken with the New York Times on condition of anonymity, revealing that phone records and intercepted calls have been found by law enforcement which reveal that operatives of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign had multiple contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.
According to the officials, communications have also been intercepted from non-campaign related associations of Trump’s. The only associate of Trump’s the officials have thus far named is Paul Manafort, who worked as Trump’s campaign chairman for several months and has previously worked as a political consultant in Russia and Ukraine.
“This is absurd,” Manafort said in response to these allegations. “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.”
Mr. Manafort added, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.’”
These revelations come as Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigns after lying about having contact with Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States.
A public report from various American intelligence agencies came to the conclusion that the Russian government did secretly get involved in the 2016 election to help Trump. Its findings did not conjecture on whether any Trump team campaign operatives were involved in these activities, but investigations are ongoing.
The FBI and the White House have declined to comment on this story at this time.
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW