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US President Donald J. Trump responds to a question from the news media during a joint news conference with President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos following their bilateral meeting, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 18 May…

Russians discussed how to influence Trump through his aides: NYT

American spies a year back intercepted communications in which Russian top officials discussed how to influence presidential candidate Donald Trump's positions…

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American spies a year back intercepted communications in which Russian top officials discussed how to influence presidential candidate Donald Trump's positions on Russia through his close aides, according to an article on Wednesday by The New York Times.

Kremlin officials specifically referred to Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman, and retired General Michael Flynn, the former National Security Adviser to the White House, who was forced to resign after a few weeks in office.

According to the Times, some of the Russian officials bragged about their proximity to Flynn, while others advocated using Ukrainian ex-president exiled in Russia, Viktor Yanukovych, who had worked closely with Manafort.

These conversations are part of the evidence that American intelligence agencies have gathered and handed over to the FBI to open an investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Both Flynn and Manafort have denied contacts with Kremlin, and the talks the Times refers to also do not clarify whether the Russians finally approached them to push through their agenda.

"If there ever was any effort by Russians to influence me, I was unaware, and they would have failed," Manafort said in a statement.

CIA Director John Brennan Tuesday said to the Congress the Kremlin contacted and interacted with Trump's campaign team, although he did not confirm if the efforts were directed toward the defeat of democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the presidential elections.

At a public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, Brennan, who led the CIA between 2013 and Jan. 2017, said Russia interfered "blatantly" in the presidential elections with the clear objective of boosting Trump's chances of winning the elections and damaging Clinton's prospects.

Both the FBI and US Congress have been investigating for months alleged Russian interference in the elections and contacts between Trump's aides and Kremlin. 

 

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