Saturday 18 November 2017

Kremlin (and Donald Trump) both call 'fake news' on reports of alleged US-Russia intelligence contact

Unhappy: Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo: REUTERS
Unhappy: Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo: REUTERS

Maria Tsvetkova and Denise Calnan

The Kremlin said on Wednesday an American media report, which said members of Donald Trump's presidential campaign had contacts with Russian intelligence officials, was not based on any facts.

The New York Times, citing four current and former U.S. officials, reported on Tuesday that phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Trump's campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.

"Let's not believe anonymous information," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters, noting that the newspaper's sources were unnamed.

"It's a newspaper report which is not based on any facts."

Peskov, responding to a White House statement saying Trump expected Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine, also said the Kremlin had no intention of discussing its territorial integrity with foreign partners. 

Meanwhile, President Trump also took to Twitter today to denounce some of the country's media outlets in relation to the reports of alleged US contact with Russian intelligence.

He is understood to be responding also to reports of him knowing about his former security advisor Michael Flynn's talks with Russia.

CNN are running two main stories on the reports this morning, headlined 'Trump knew of DOJ probe for weeks, Pence only days' and 'Trump aides were on constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign'.

Meanwhile, MSNBC have published stories headlined; 'Mike Pence told of DOJ warning on Flynn two weeks after White House' and 'Clinton Officials Denounce Alleged Trump Campaign Officials' Contacts with Russia'.

Michael Flynn was forced to leave his post after less than one month in office following reports that he had failed to brief truthfully Mike Pence, the vice president, about conversations he had with Moscow's ambassador in Washington.

Mr Flynn is accused of discussing the lifting of sanctions on Moscow with the Russian ambassador in Washington before Mr Trump had taken office, an act that prompted an FBI investigation into whether he had violated US law.

Mr Trump finally asked for Mr Flynn's resignation on Monday, but Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, revealed yesterday that the president was briefed on January 26 that Mr Flynn's account was thought to have been misleading.

The claims seem at odds with Mr Trump's assertion last week that he was unaware of a news report about Mr Flynn's actions.

"The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred," he wrote online this morning, before he mentioned a couple of outlets in particular.

"@MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great!," he added, with a compliment for the pro-Trump broadcaster.

Reuters

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