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By Saagar Enjeti
Members of the Trump campaign had at least 18 different undisclosed exchanges with Russian government officials, Reuters reports.
Officials who described the calls to Reuters said they saw no evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the two, though it does contradict past claims by the Trump campaign and President Donald Trump.
The contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian government included at least six phone calls between former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak. The calls reportedly focused on “mending U.S.-Russian economic relations strained by sanctions imposed on Moscow, cooperating in fighting Islamic State in Syria and containing a more assertive China, the sources said,” Reuters reported.
The conversations also included a way to establish a communications backchannel between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to circumvent the U.S. national security apparatus, whom both Putin and Trump viewed as inimical to good relations between the two countries.
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.
“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein in a press release Wednesday. He continued, “my decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”