WIONNew Delhi, Delhi, IndiaMar 23, 2017, 11.01 AM (IST)
The FBI possesses information indicating associates of US President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the divulging of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, CNN reports, citing US officials.
One source told CNN that this is what FBI Director James Comey alluded to when he announced on Monday that not only was the FBI investigating Russian interference in the US election, but the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.
The information the FBI is now reviewing, CNN reports citing those US officials, includes: human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings.
US officials told CNN this information intelligence was not taken from the leaked dossier of unverified compiled by Christopher Steele, who was hired by Trump's opponents (first Republicans, then by Democrats), though that dossier also suggested there was coordination between Russian operatives and the Trump campaign.
These officials have cautioned that the investigation is ongoing and that the information was not conclusive, though it has raised the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence that "coordination" may have taken place.
"Coordination" is a term Comey described during the Monday's House Intelligence hearing: He made a distinction between two parties actively working together, and one party manipulating a second party into advancing the first party's interests without them knowing.
Background: Is there anything else to suggest links between Trump and Russia?
Two days after the US election, the Washington Post reported Russian officials saying they "conferred" with the Trump campaign, saying "there were contacts", during the election.
"Obviously we know most of the people from his entourage," said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Trump spokesman Hope Hicks said the campaign had "no contact with Russian officials".
Yesterday, an Associated Press report claimed that Paul Manafort, Trump's election campaign manager for 143 days, signed a $10 million anual contract in 2006 from a Russian billionaire to advance Russian president Vladimir Putin's interests.
Manafort stepped down from Trump's campaign after it became known that he lobbied for the pro-Putin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort denies he is linked to Russia.
As WION wrote on March 11, then-Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone has admitted to having direct contact with both Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and the hacker who hacked the Democrats' emails during the US election Guccifer 2.0, who US intelligence says is really just a front for the Russian military intelligence agency.
On Monday's hearing, FBI Director James Comey said that the Russians hacked the Democrats and used "cutouts"..."to cover up that they were the ones releasing" the stolen information.
Roger Stone appeared to have advanced knowledge of the contents of the emails WikiLeaks possessed before they were made public. Roger Stone has denied there was anything illegal or improper in this communication.
The first time WikiLeaks published Democrat campaign chief John Podesta's hacked emails came about two hours after the recording of Donald Trump saying he grabbed women "by the p*ssy".
Afterwards, Trump praised WikiLeaks and continued throughout the election to use Podesta's hacked emails to cudgel Clinton.
During the third presidential debate, Donald Trump spoke directly to Russia, encouraging them to hack his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton, saying: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 [Democrat] emails that are missing."
Trump's pick for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of the world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company ExxonMobil, was personally awarded the "Order of frienship" from Vladimir Putin, given to "reward foreign nationals whose work, deeds and efforts were aimed at the betterment of relations with the Russian Federation and its people". Despite having one of the most sought after jobs in politics anywhere Tillerson has no prior experience in politics. A report yesterday said Tillerson was "stunned" when he was approached for the job, as he was preparing for retirement.
Several members of Trump's campaign and White House administration have had contacts with Russian officials and lied about it, including: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had to recuse himself from any Trump-Russia probe after meeting Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak at least three times despite saying under oath he had never met any Russian officials; National Security Adviser Gen Michael Flynn, who had to resign after he was recorded discussing American sanctions against Russia with Ambassador Kislyak and lying about it, even to Vice President Mike Pence; Carter Page, and JD Gordon.