Russia has confirmed it was speaking with members of Donald Trump's campaign before the election, The Washington Post reports. "Obviously, we know most of the people from [Trump's] entourage," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. "Those people have always been in the limelight in the United States and have occupied high-ranking positions. I cannot say that all of them but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives."
Donald Trump and his campaign staff have repeatedly denied rumored ties to Russia. After it came out that one of Trump's foreign policy experts allegedly met with Russian officials in attempts of making diplomatic negotiations, Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway responded by saying, "If he's doing that, he's certainly not doing it with the permission or knowledge of the campaign." Trump has repeatedly said himself, "I don't know Putin," but that it would be "great" if they got along.
While it is unclear what Ryabkov meant exactly when he said "there were contacts" with Trump, members of Trump's campaign did formally meet with Russian embassy staff, a "normal practice" according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who spoke with Bloomberg. Hillary Clinton was also invited to such meetings, although she declined.
As for Ryabkov, he added: "We continue this work [with Donald Trump], of course."