Russians discussed how to influence Trump
via his aides: NYT
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[May 25, 2017]
By Warren Strobel
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior Russian
intelligence and political officials discussed how to influence Donald
Trump through his advisers according to information gathered by American
spies last summer, the New York Times reported on Wednesday,
Citing three current and former U.S. officials familiar with the
intelligence, the newspaper said the conversations focused on Paul
Manafort, then the Trump presidential campaign chairman, and Michael
Flynn, a retired general who was then advising Trump.
U.S. congressional committees and a special counsel named by the Justice
Department this month are investigating whether there was Russian
interference in the 2016 U.S. election and the possibility of collusion
between Trump's campaign and Russia.
The controversy has engulfed Trump's young administration since he fired
FBI Director James Comey two weeks ago amid the agency's investigation
of possible Russia ties. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations
and Trump denies any collusion.
The New York Times report was the latest indication of the depth of
concerns within the U.S. intelligence community about Russian efforts to
tip November's election toward Trump as he battled Democrat Hillary
On May 18, Reuters reported that Flynn and other advisers to Trumpís
campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin
ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the
2016 presidential race, citing current and former U.S. officials.
On Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan told lawmakers he had
noticed contacts between associates of Trump's campaign and Russia
during the campaign and grew concerned Moscow had sought to lure
Americans down "a treasonous path."
In its report, the New York Times said some Russians boasted about how
well they knew Flynn, who was subsequently named Trump's national
security adviser before being dismissed less than a month after the
Republican took office.
Others discussed leveraging their ties to Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed
president of Ukraine living in exile in Russia, who at one time had
worked closely with Manafort, who was dismissed from Trump's campaign,
the newspaper reported.
FORMER TRUMP AIDE TO TESTIFY
Separately, Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump's
presidential campaign, told Reuters via text message that he would
testify before the House Intelligence Committee but was "still working
"Nothing (is) fully confirmed at this stage," Page wrote, adding that if
invited, he would also testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee,
but had yet to receive such a request.
[to top of second column]
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then-incoming White House
national security adviser, speaks at the U.S. Institute of Peace
"2017 Passing the Baton" conference in Washington, U.S., January 10,
2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
ABC News, which first reported on Page's planned testimony, said he
would testify before the House panel on June 6. A spokesman for the
committee declined comment on whether Page would testify.
In a letter to the panel seen by Reuters, Page accused Brennan of
offering a "biased viewpoint" in Tuesday's testimony.
On Wednesday morning, the top Democrat on the committee said it
would subpoena Flynn in its probe into alleged Russian meddling in
the presidential election after he declined to appear before the
"We will be following up with subpoenas, and those subpoenas will be
designed to maximize our chance of getting the information that we
need," Representative Adam Schiff told journalists at a breakfast
sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
The leaders of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said on
Tuesday they would subpoena two of Flynn's businesses after he
declined to hand over documents in its separate Russia probe.
Flynn, a retired general, is a key witness in the Russia
investigations because of his ties to Moscow.
He was fired from his position at the White House in February, after
less than a month on the job, for failing to disclose the content of
talks with Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States,
and misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.
(Reporting by Warren Strobel; Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann,
Jonathan Landay and Patricia Zengerle in Washington and Karen
Freifeld in New York; Writing by Doina Chiacu, Patricia Zengerle and
Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)
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