Report: Intel Intercepts Expose Connections Between Russia & Trump Campaign
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by Countable | 7.21.17
Information intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies suggests that a key Trump Campaign official had serious and substantive conversations with top Russian officials, according to a new report from The Washington Post.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has disclosed several discussions he had with Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential campaign. At that time Sessions was a senior Republican lawmaker from Alabama, and has repeatedly asserted that those conversations with the Russian official were tied to his position as a top Senator, not his work on the Trump Campaign.
But Kislyak’s reports to the Kremlin about his talks with Sessions contradict those accounts, the Post story says, citing unnamed U.S. Intelligence officials.
"A former U.S. official who read the Kislyak reports said that the Russian ambassador reported speaking with Sessions about issues that were central to the campaign, including Trump’s positions on key policy matters of significance to Moscow.”
Kislyak’s communications, the newspaper reports, also detail a previously-undisclosed conversation with Sessions at a posh Washington hotel where then-candidate Trump gave his first major foreign policy speech.
"Sessions has said he does not remember any encounter with Kislyak at that event. In his June testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sessions said, "I do not recall any conversations with any Russian official at the Mayflower Hotel.”
Later in that hearing, Sessions said that "it’s conceivable that it occurred. I just don’t remember it."
The Post’s report is based on unnamed intelligence officials’ descriptions of intercepted communications from Kislyak to the Kremlin, and so, the story says, "...the Russian ambassador could have mischaracterized or exaggerated the nature of his interactions." But the report also says that, among American intelligence officials, Kislyak “has a reputation for accurately relaying details about his interactions with officials in Washington.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told the Post,
"Obviously I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that the Washington Post has not seen and that has not been provided to me.”
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--Andrea Seabrook, Countable’s Managing Editor
(Photo Credit: Office of the President-elect)
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