1) Following election day, the Russian government announced that it had been in frequent communication with the Trump campaign through out the election.
2) This declaration was ignored by the press and capital hill at the time. The Trump administration was embarrassed but denied it at the time.
3) It appears that this was an attempt by the Kremlin to immediately get under Trump’s skin via blackmail.
The Russian government was in touch with members of President-elect Donald Trump’s political team during the U.S. election campaign and knows most of his entourage, one of Russia’s most senior diplomats told the Interfax news agency on Thursday.
Accused by defeated Democratic contender Hillary Clinton of being a puppet of President Vladimir Putin after praising the Russian leader, Trump has dismissed suggestions he had anything to do with the Russian government during the campaign.
But in comments that could prove politically awkward for the president-elect, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said there had indeed been some communications.
Paul Manafort (L), Michael Flynn (M) Carter Page (R). All three men were involved in the Trump campaign and have had recent contact with senior Russian officials.
“There were contacts,” Interfax cited Ryabkov as saying. “We are doing this and have been doing this during the election campaign.”
Such contacts would continue, he added, saying the Russian government knew and had been in touch with many of Trump’s closest allies. He did not name names.
“Obviously, we know most of the people from his (Trump’s)entourage. Those people have always been in the limelight in the United States and have occupied high-ranking positions,” he said.
“I cannot say that all of them, but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”
Moscow was just beginning to consider how to go about setting up more formal channels to communicate with the future Trump administration, said Ryabkov.