Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians

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Advisers to President Trump's campaign reportedly had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russian officials and those with ties to Moscow.

Three current and former officials said that six of these contacts were phone calls between Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and Trump advisers, including Flynn.

The calls and messages happened between April 2016 and November 2016, according to Reuters. The report is the latest revelation in the slow-motion auto crash unfurling at the White House, after Donald Trump reportedly shared highly classified information with Russian officials and allegedly pressured former FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's ties with Russia.

The information comes as Congress has intensified its scrutiny of President Donald Trump's challenged presidency and a new special prosecutor has been named to head the FBI investigation into the growing evidence of a series of contacts between Russian officials and members of the Trump presidential campaign and his nascent administration. In January, Trump simply said "No" when a reporter asked if his campaign staff was in contact with Russian Federation.

These stories all came after The Washington Post published an audio recording of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from June 15, 2016, one day after the intelligence community alleged Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee.

Over the last several months, leaks have revealed that the Trump campaign had numerous contacts with Russian Federation prior to the election and immediately after. After the White House first announced that the firing was not related to the alleged ties with Russia, President Trump told NBC News anchor Lester Holt in an interview, according to CNN, that part of the reason Comey was sacked was his insistence of moving forward with "this Russia thing".

The White House denied contact with Russian officials during the campaign in January, the report notes.

Medvedchuk, in a email response to Reuters, said, "I am not acquainted with any of Donald Trump's close associates, therefore no such conversation could have taken place".

The obvious question is: If that was the content of the calls, why weren't they disclosed?

"It's rare to have that many phone calls to foreign officials, especially to a country we consider an adversary or a hostile power", Richard Armitage, a Republican and former deputy secretary of state, told Reuters.

Beyond Medvedchuk and Kislyak, the identities of the other Putin-linked participants in the contacts remain classified and the names of Trump advisers other than Flynn have been "masked" in intelligence reports on the contacts because of legal protections on their privacy as American citizens.

USA and allied intelligence and law enforcement agencies routinely monitor communications and movements of Russian officials.

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