Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump campaign reportedly had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians

Front and center of those contacts - the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

Donald Trump's campaign team were in communication with Russian officials far more than now disclosed and even discussed bypassing United States intelligence agencies to set up a back channel direct to Vladimir Putin, according to reports.

Stoking the fire, the New York Times and then CNN reported Tuesday that Trump had asked former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey to drop the probe into Flynn before he sacked him on May 9. After firing Comey - itself an natural disaster - news has emerged that the ex-director secretly wrote memos documenting meetings with Trump including one in which he supposedly asked Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation entirely.

On Wednesday the Trump administration appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into allegations Russian Federation and Trump's campaign collaborated to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The White House declined to comment on whether officials there had known about Mr. Flynn's legal troubles before the inauguration.

The report comes just a day after the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a Justice Department special counsel overseeing the investigation into any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Pak protests detention of two diplomatic officials in Kabul
Two Pakistani staffers were held in Kabul by Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) under undisclosed circumstances. Pakistan did not identify the diplomats or provide further details about when they were detained and released.

The calls and messages happened between April 2016 and November 2016, according to Reuters.

The obvious question is: If that was the content of the calls, why weren't they disclosed? It was not clear with whom he spoke but the sources said the topics discussed were also about improving US-Russian cooperation.

Medvedchuk denied having any contact with anyone in the Trump campaign.

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

"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. However, officials can request that they be revealed for intelligence purposes.

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