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Trump’s Campaign Had Constant Contact With Russia During The Election

It turns out that Russia may have had more to do with the 2016 presidential election than just hacking the DNC. According to multiple news outlets, Donald Trump’s campaign aides had nearly constant and repeated contact with Russian intelligence officials.

The New York Times cited four current and former American intelligence officials in their investigation, who spoke with the paper on the condition of anonymity. According to these officials, “phone records and intercepted calls” showed that both top campaign officials and other Trump associates had frequent and repeated contact with members of Russia’s government and intelligence community in the year leading up to the election.

The officials who spoke with the Times intercepted calls between Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager for several months, and Russian intelligence operatives. However, Manafort, who has business ties in Russia and the Ukraine, heatedly denied the claims. “This is absurd,” he said in an interview with the Times. “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.”

No other Trump official was specifically pointed out by the anonymous U.S. officials.  

While it is important to note that communications between campaigns and foreign governments is not uncommon, and no conclusive evidence of Trump aides and Russians collaborating to influence the election results has turned up, recent news of other Russia-Trump relations make this revelation especially disturbing.

Due to possibly illegal communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak last year concerning sanctions on Russia, White House national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday evening. According to the New York Times, the Justice Department warned the White House that Flynn “could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.”

In another unsettling tie to Russia, President Trump praised President Vladimir Putin on the national stage more than a few times. He even received a Christmas letter from the Kremlin leader in December, to which he replied, “A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct.”

In July, then-presidential candidate Trump called on Russian hackers in July to hack Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email. According to an FBI investigation, it’s likely that the Wikileaks hack of the Democratic National Committee, which may have influenced the election in Trump’s favor, was carried out by Russian hackers as well. And let’s not forget the dossier on Trump and Russia, which contains unsubstantiated claims that the Kremlin state had groomed Trump for the American presidency and fed him intelligence concerning his political rivals during his campaign. The dossier also claimed that the Russian government had potentially embarrassing, lewd videos of Trump to use as potential blackmail against him.

The story is still developing due to how highly classified the investigation is. FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are still determining what Trump’s motives were for the unprecedented amount of contact between his campaign and Kremlin officials. If the motives were, however, to sway the election and undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign, one official noted to CNN, “then that would escalate things.”

The hashtag #TrumpImpeachmentParty trended on Twitter Wednesday morning following the revelation that the election may have been infiltrated by the Russian government.

In typical Trumpian fashion, the president blamed “FAKE NEWS” for the Times report. According to Trump’s tweets, information given by multiple U.S. intelligence officials is actually a pro-Hillary “conspiracy theory” carried out by ~liberal~ biased media.

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Bridget Higgins

U Mass Amherst

Bridget is a senior Journalism major focusing on political journalism at UMass Amherst. She interned for the HC editorial team, writes columns for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, and occasionally gets a freelance article or two on sailing published by Ocean Navigator Magazine. When she isn't greeting random puppies on the street, she loves to cook for her friends, perpetuate her coffee addiction, and spend too much time crafting Tweets. She is also an avid fan of chocolate anything and unnecessary pillows. If you want to know more about Bridget, follow her on Instagram - @bridget_higgins - or Twitter - @bridgehiggins
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