ONTD Political

Moscow had contacts with Trump team during campaign, Russian diplomat says

12:30 pm - 11/11/2016
MOSCOW — Russian government officials conferred with members of Donald Trump’s campaign team, a senior Russian diplomat said Thursday, a disclosure that could reopen scrutiny of the Kremlin’s role in the president-elect’s bitter race against Hillary Clinton.

The statement came from Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who said in an interview with the state-run Interfax news agency that “there were contacts” with the Trump team.

“Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Ryabkov said.

“We have just begun to consider ways of building dialogue with the future Donald Trump administration and channels we will be using for those purposes,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

Ryabkov provided no further details, and his remarks drew a swift denial from Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who said the campaign had “no contact with Russian officials” before Tuesday’s election.

Nevertheless, the assertion from Moscow attracted attention from national security experts after a presidential campaign that the Kremlin, according to U.S. officials, sought to influence in unprecedented ways.

Washington, for instance, accused the Kremlin of orchestrating hacks into the Democratic National Committee and the emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that led to politically embarrassing disclosures by WikiLeaks. Trump faced criticism during the campaign for his positive statements about Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and for other Russia-friendly policy stances, although he repeatedly denied having financial or other ties to Moscow.

Speaking to Bloomberg News, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said staffers at the Russian Embassy in Washington met with members of Trump’s campaign — meetings she described as “normal practice.” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign refused similar requests for meetings, Zakharova told the agency.

Asked later for clarification, a Foreign Ministry official declined to elaborate on Ryabkov’s remarks but said standard diplomacy called for “contact with the leaders in the campaign” on matters such as clarifying statements by the candidate or conveying interview requests from Russian journalists. The ministry official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

A Clinton campaign official who was asked to comment on Zakharova’s statement answered with a one-word email: “false.”

In September, Trump was interviewed by host Larry King for a segment broadcast on RT America, part of a state-owned Russian media network. In the interview, Trump criticized the U.S. news media, calling it “unbelievably dishonest.” A Trump spokesman said the interview had been a “favor” to King, a former CNN host and a friend of Trump’s, and that the campaign did not know the interview would appear on RT America.

Putin throughout the campaign denied that the Kremlin was interfering with the U.S. elections.

But neither the administration’s hacking allegations nor reporting of Trump’s apparent ties to Russia dissuaded more than 59 million voters from casting their ballots for the Republican.

Speculation has swirled about Trump’s links to Russia since early in the campaign, both because of his warm words about Putin and past business ventures in Russia. It is not clear whether Trump has any investments in the country, because he has not released any tax records.

But he made millions of dollars by taking the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013. Wealthy Russians also have been an important source of investments in Trump’s businesses. His son Donald Trump Jr. said in 2008 that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” adding that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Several Trump advisers also have had well-publicized ties to Russia, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who managed an investment fund for a Russian aluminum magnate with close ties to Putin. Manafort resigned from the campaign days after his name was found in a ledger designating funds to be paid out from the party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in a pro-European street revolution in 2014.

Trump’s national security adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, sat next to Putin in 2015 during a dinner held by the Kremlin-funded television channel RT, formerly known as Russia Today.

Politically, Trump has called for closer ties with Russia to fight the Islamic State, and he rebuffed calls to renounce Putin after the Russian leader called Trump “colorful and talented,” a remark that was mistranslated by some in the news media as “a genius.”

“A guy calls me a genius, and I’m going to renounce?” Trump said. “I’m not going to renounce him.” Trump has not met Putin, according to statements this year, although in 2015 he claimed he had met the Russian leader.

While Russian officials were openly jubilant about Trump’s victory, Ryabkov also said that Moscow “does not cherish any special hopes in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president.”

“We do not feel any euphoria,” Ryabkov told Interfax. “We wouldn’t like our public, or at least the Interfax subscribers, to have the impression that we are overwhelmed with some rosy anticipation.”

Tom Hamburger and Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.


Do y'all like NATO? Cause....
dorawa 11th-Nov-2016 04:46 am (UTC)
I just want to remind you that the FBI said Trump had no clear link to Russia

Trump supporters all got played for fools and now we got Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie and Mike Pence to lead our country. We're so fucked.

RIP to health care and the fucking Earth itself.
invisiblegirlx 11th-Nov-2016 05:00 am (UTC)
The clown car of fools this guy is going to bring in to run America. Trump voters played themselves.
yamair 11th-Nov-2016 01:50 pm (UTC)
I don't understand why the FBI hid this info. You'd think they wouldn't want a Russian stooge in Whitehouse. What do they gain?

I mean, they knew all this, yet were still pro-Trump and Comey basically came out and campaigned for him.

Edited at 2016-11-11 01:52 pm (UTC)
ponyboy 11th-Nov-2016 08:56 pm (UTC)
i also want to bring up that drumpf had a server that interacted with russian ones at banks.
crucified 11th-Nov-2016 05:00 am (UTC)
I just...I have no words anymore. I just don't.
ineverycolor 11th-Nov-2016 05:06 am (UTC)

See my comment below... and it just keeps getting better. Eh?

(no subject) - Anonymous
arisma 11th-Nov-2016 05:39 am (UTC)
I'd love to be able to read this, could you try reposting it in a smaller format? Thanks so much!
moonshaz 11th-Nov-2016 05:54 am (UTC)
Yes, please make it smaller!
evilgmbethy 11th-Nov-2016 05:15 am (UTC)
Trump was right. The system is rigged. It was rigged against Hillary. She got more votes. Her campaign was tampered with by Russia. Fuck everything.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
moonshaz 11th-Nov-2016 06:01 am (UTC)
Fuck everything is right. In fact......

That cat is me ever since the election.
(no subject) - Anonymous
dorawa 12th-Nov-2016 06:52 am (UTC)
Nah. It's cause Trump is chummy with Putin, which means Putin will think he can get away with things little by little until he's back to trying to take over the Eastern European countries. Then NATO and the US will look to each other for help, and welp.
naotmaa 11th-Nov-2016 05:10 pm (UTC)
Maddow last night made the point that Trump will now be receiving top secret intelligence information and could possibly give that info over to Putin if he wanted to. It's a harrowing thought.

I don't think it's really surprising that Trump's relations with Russia had little effect on the American public, especially amongst his supporters. At the very least they tend to be apathetic towards Russia and quite a few seem to love Putin. I don't think the average American cares or understands much about what's happening in Ukraine or what happened in Georgia. I think more people cared about the anti-LGBT laws, but Trump supporters saw that favorably as an attack on "PC culture". One thing that has surprised me though is that there is a segment of the far left that also has a strange affinity for Putin as well.
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