A look at the known ties between Trump associates and Russia

After Sessions recused himself from a Justice Department probe into Moscow’s purported hack of Presidential polls.

March 03, 2017 04:25 pm | Updated 04:37 pm IST - WASHINGTON:

Jeff Sessions recusing himself from a Justice Department probe into Russian 'meddling' during the U.S. polls has put the spotlight on the ties between Trump associates and Russia.

Jeff Sessions recusing himself from a Justice Department probe into Russian 'meddling' during the U.S. polls has put the spotlight on the ties between Trump associates and Russia.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from an investigation into any ties between Moscow and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign after revelations that he talked with Russia’s Ambassador to the United States twice during the presidential campaign. Mr. Sessions had faced mounting pressure from both parties on Capitol Hill that he step aside or resign.

A look at the known contacts between Trump associates and Russia:

JEFF SESSIONS

The Justice Department acknowledged Wednesday that the Attorney-General twice spoke with the Russian envoy when Mr. Sessions was a senator and involved in Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. Those discussions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, first reported in The Washington Post , seem to contradict Mr. Sessions’ sworn statements during his confirmation hearings when asked what he would do if “anyone affiliated” with the campaign had been in contact with Russia. Mr. Sessions said in a statement Thursday he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.” Two top Democratic lawmakers have since called on Sessions to resign.

MICHAEL FLYNN

Mr. Trump’s National Security Adviser resigned February 13 after reports he misled White House officials about his contacts with Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. — a situation Mr. Trump was told about soon after he took office. Mr. Flynn eventually lost the President’s trust after he said at first that he didn’t discuss sanctions with the Russian envoy during the transition, but later admitted he may have done so. Separately, in 2015, Mr. Flynn gave a paid speech in Moscow and sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a dinner.

TRUMP ORGANIZATION

Mr. Flynn received a Ukrainian peace plan involving the Russian Crimea dispute right before he resigned. That plan was cobbled together by pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko and two men with ties to Mr. Trump’s namesake company, long-time Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and former Trump Organization business adviser Felix Sater, who confirmed the arrangement to The Associated Press. Mr. Sater, a Russian-born former Mafia informant, was named by Mr. Trump as an adviser to the Trump Organization as recently as 2010 even though Mr. Sater had been convicted in a major stock—fraud scheme.

PAUL MANAFORT

Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman resigned in August after the AP disclosed his firm’s covert lobbying efforts on behalf of the former pro-Russian ruling political party in the Ukraine. Those efforts, which occurred before Mr. Manafort joined the Trump campaign, included attempts to get positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials and efforts to undercut sympathy for Yulia Tymoshenko, an imprisoned rival of then-Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych. More recently, The New York Times reported Mr. Manafort and other members of Trump’s campaign had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence officials; Mr. Manafort said he had “never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers.”

FINALLY, DONALD TRUMP

Mr. Trump said during the election he did not have any deals in Russia, but he held the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. Mr. Trump has been contradictory when describing his personal relationship with President Vladimir Putin, insisting during the campaign he had “no relationship with” the Russian leader and no recollection of ever meeting him. But several times in prior years, he has said the opposite. Mr. Trump has had conversations with Mr. Putin since the election, speaking to the Russian leader shortly after he won the presidency and again eight days after he took office.

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