The Trump Russia Connection: 18 More Previously Undisclosed Contacts With Russian Officials

Top officials, both former and current, have acknowledged that there are at least another 18 calls and email contacts between members of the Trump presidential campaign and the Trump administration that were previously undisclosed to any of the ongoing investigations. The information comes as Congress has intensified its scrutiny of President Donald Trump’s challenged presidency and a new special prosecutor has been named to head the FBI investigation into the growing evidence of a series of contacts between Russian officials and members of the Trump presidential campaign and his nascent administration. Reuters reported Thursday that three current and former officials, their identities left unreported, have admitted to knowing of an additional 18 phone calls and emails that transpired between various members of the Trump organization and Russian officials have been added to the evidence being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the congressional probes into the known Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the series of previously undisclosed contacts between Russia and various members of the Trump campaign and administration. From Reuters: “Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.” Michael Flynn resigned his position in the early days of the Trump administration, which has yet to see 120 days, following the revelation that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature and scope of his communications with Russian ambassador Kislyak. A subsequent investigation was launched to determine whether or not Flynn was the recipient of payments from Russia, and a House Oversight Committee in late April (per NPR) found that apparently broke the law by doing just that. When President Trump stated publicly that Michael Flynn’s vetting was the Obama administration’s fault, former President Obama stated that Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was vetted and not hired by his administration and, furthermore, in his post-election meeting with Donald Trump, he warned the president-elect, according to NPR, of an ongoing investigation into Flynn by the FBI, a warning later acknowledged by the Trump administration. Flynn’s tenure of just 24 days is the shortest in the history of the office. But Flynn was just the first to be associated with dealings with the Russians prior to and following the November election. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (shown on right) was forced to resign after he failed to reveal the extent of his interactions with Russian officials to Vice President Mike Pence. [Image by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images] In recent days, after several weeks of stalled congressional investigations, the Trump administration became the target of interest again with the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was reportedly continuing the investigation into the possibility of Russian connections with members of the Trump campaign and administration. After the White House first announced that the firing was not related to the alleged ties with Russia, President Trump told NBC News anchor Lester Holt in an interview, according to CNN, that part of the reason Comey was fired was his insistence of moving forward with “this Russia thing.” In what has become known as the “Comey memo,” the New York Times also revealed that, according to the former FBI director himself, Trump has personally requested that the FBI drop the investigation into Michael Flynn. That reported memo and alleged conversation has led to talk of obstruction of justice accusations against President Trump, with some even going so far as to advocate that his interference in an ongoing FBI investigation was grounds for impeachment. According to the latest Reuters report, the sources say that the latest 18 pieces of contact information (all of which may have not been reviewed to date) have as yet not revealed any wrongdoing or collusion with the Russians. But the news agency pointed out that the disclosure could likely increase the pressure on Trump and his aides to provide the FBI and congressional investigations with a full account of interactions with Russian officials and others with links to Moscow during and after the 2016 election, something the Trump administration has been reluctant to do. This was exhibited by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions not informing the Congress during his confirmation hearings that he had had contacts with Russian officials, even when he was directly questioned if such contacts had taken place. President Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House on May 10, 2017. [Image by Russian Foreign Ministry Photo/AP Images] As the Trump administration becomes further mired in the deepening alleged Russia connection scandal, more and more people are demanding answers to questions surrounding the extent of involvement Trump’s campaign had with the Russians and how much involvement still exists. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released May 15, 59 percent of Americans, including a growing number of Republicans, want an independent investigation into the possible Trump connections with Russia. The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that former FBI Director Robert Mueller had been appointed as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential campaign and the possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Mueller will head the FBI investigation that began last July. [Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]

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