Curiosity has been growing as to whether new U.S. President Donald Trump indeed has ties with Russia. Reports have noted that this alleged close ties goes back to the campaign period when Trump then met with Russian officials.
These possible ties have already prompted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to organize a U.S. counterintelligence task force. This task force composed of the FBI, the Treasury and Justice departments, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency has been investigating the new U.S. President as to whether he received funds from Russia. Specifically, the primary aim of the investigations is to find out who financially supported the hacks on the the Democratic National Committee and that of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and whether Trump’s associates acted as middlemen between his campaign and the Kremlin.
Unknown to many, the Federal government has began several investigations into the role of Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election particularly during the campaign period.
Meeting in April
It has been confirmed by a Wall Street Journal report that Donald Trump actually met with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during a VIP reception last April 27 at the Mayflower Hotel. Trump gave a speech at that time on foreign policy and was even quoted as saying “easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia” is possible.
White House officials, however, said the meeting was a brief and non-substantive one that lasted only for five minutes. There were also many other foreign ambassadors in attendance at the time, they added. The same report published on Wall Street Journal on May 13 stated that Trump only Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign diplomats during that reception. The meeting was said to be routine task by foreign ambassadors who normally meet with presidential hopefuls of both parties to gather feedback and report an analysis of possible impact on their governments.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, for her part, denied any interaction between Trump and Russian officials during the campaign. Trump in a press conference last month also dismissed reports of potential ties with Russia. He referred to it as a “ruse” adding that he has not made any phone call to Russia in years and that he doesn’t speak to people from Russia.
Links to Russia Scrutinized
Trump’s links to Russia surfaced after the discovery of a 35-page dossier from a former British intelligence officer. The dossier contained several allegations that pointed to the intervention of Kremlin in the U.S. election with the aim of undermining candidate Hillary Clinton.
One name that emerged was Paul Manafort, one of Trump’s campaign managers who used to be a top adviser to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine from 2004 to 2012. According to secret ledgers uncovered, Manafort received cash payments of $12.7 million for his work from 2007 to 2012 from the political party of former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, the Party of Regions.
Another allegation confirmed by the Federal government was a report stating that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 wit the U.S. presidential election as the target. The report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also said that the Russian government was pro-Trump.
In line with this, Russian hackers were reportedly able to obtain emails from the Democratic National Committee which they gave to WikiLeaks. They were also able to gain access to the electoral agencies of several states although there was no concrete evidence on Russian influence during the vote tallying period.
Amid all these reports linking him to Russia, U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed everything and described the moves as a “scam” initiated by the media and his bitter political rivals.