Trump and Russia
High-level advisers to presidential candidate Donald Trump were "in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to U.S. intelligence," CNN reported Tuesday night, citing "multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement, and administration officials." Like a similar anonymously sourced report in The New York Times from Tuesday evening, CNN says that investigators have not yet determined the motive for the frequent contact. If collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to damage Hillary Clinton's rival campaign is uncovered, one official tells CNN, "that would escalate things."
Investigators were not targeting Trump associates when they picked up on the contacts, merely conducting routine intelligence gathering on suspect Russian officials and nationals, but the "frequency of the communications during early summer and the proximity to Trump of those involved 'raised a red flag,'" CNN reports, naming two of the officials "regularly communicating with Russian nationals" as Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, and Michael Flynn, who just resigned as Trump's national security adviser. Manafort denied any improper contact with Russian officials to The New York Times.
President Trump was briefed on the frequent and extensive contacts between suspected Russian operatives and people in his campaign and business, as was former President Barack Obama, CNN reports. As CNN's Pamela Brown notes in the video below, investigators' concerns were heightened when, after the election, U.S. agencies intercepted communications between Russian officials celebrating their special access to Trump, according to two law enforcement officials, though the Russians may have been exaggerating their access to the incoming U.S. president. The investigations are ongoing. Peter Weber