Manafort and Trump entourage reportedly had repeated Russia contact during election.

Trump Entourage, Including Ex-Campaign Chief, Reportedly Had Repeated Russia Contact During Election

Trump Entourage, Including Ex-Campaign Chief, Reportedly Had Repeated Russia Contact During Election

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Feb. 14 2017 10:01 PM

Trump Entourage, Including Former Campaign Head, Reportedly Had Repeated Contact With Russia During Election

Paul Manafort at the Republican National Convention on July 17 in Cleveland.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The still hazy links between the Trump administration and Russia grew clearer on Tuesday with the New York Times reporting that former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, along with other Trump associates and members of his presidential campaign, made repeated contact with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. American officials intercepted communications between Trump’s entourage and high-level intelligence officials as the U.S. was looking for evidence of Russian hacking and general meddling in the November election.

What they found set off alarm bells (via the Times):

… the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public…
The National Security Agency, which monitors the communications of foreign intelligence services, initially captured the communications between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russians as part of routine foreign surveillance… The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the D.N.C. hack, according to federal law enforcement officials…

Manafort, who was replaced by Trump midcampaign with Steve Bannon, denied that he knowingly spoke to Russian intelligence officials and that, despite his work with a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, he had “never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today.”