During the last election, Michael Flynn and other key advisers in the Trump campaign had had contact with Russia to a significant extent. According to a former US official who was familiar with the case, Flynn and other advisers were involved in at least 18 calls and e-mails with Russian operatives and politicians. The calls and e-mails were not disclosed. The Senate Intelligence Committee and the FBI are examining these interactions to determine whether there’s anything concrete there.
A report on Reuters said that 6 out of the 18 undisclosed contacts were made through phone calls to Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US. The calls were made by Michael Flynn as well as a few other members of the Trump team. The report also went on to note that after the election, communication between the Russian ambassador and Michael Flynn accelerated with discussions focusing largely on building a back channel communication option that Trump and Putin would use to avoid the normal national security bureaucracy. The Russian connection saga has dragged on since Trump took over and it has been growing more prominant every day.
At the start of January, the Trump administration systematically denied that there were any contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russia. However, since that time, four meetings between the Russian ambassador and Trump advisers have already been confirmed. Despite all this, the team that has reviewed these communications has said that there is no evidence to suggest any wrongdoing or collusion so far. There was no comment though about this latest development from the White House, Flynn’s lawyer, or the Russians. The 18 calls and electronic messages happened at the height of the presidential campaign between April and November.
This was also the time when the DNC servers were hacked by Russia with sensitive information released to the public. US Intelligence Officials have already concluded that the hacking was designed to discredit the November 8 vote and swing it in Trump’s favor. The disclosure of these communications comes barely a day after the US Justice Department confirmed the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the investigation. Mueller will take over from where the FBI left in an investigation that started back in July.
People who have worked in previous election campaigns in the US have, however, maintained that contact with foreign officials is not unusual but the total number of contacts between Trump aides and Russia as well as the frequency at which they happened has raised some red flags. The disclosure of these communications will definitely put some pressure on the Trump administration which has long held the view that the ongoing investigation is nothing but a witch hunt. The President has already fired Michael Flynn and the Director of the FBI, James Comey. However, the investigation still continues and no one knows what may be unearthed in the coming few days and weeks.