The ongoing saga of Trump-Russia ties continues following news of Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel for the probe, which came as an unpleasant surprise to the White House. Trump has predictably lashed out, and he won’t be happy about an exclusive Reuters report that points toward six “previously undisclosed interactions” between Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak as some of the eighteen communications between Trump campaign associates and Kremlin operatives.
The emails and calls took place during the general election, and Flynn was said to be a Russian target for forming a back channel within the Trump administration, according to well-placed sources:
Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.
In January, the Trump White House initially denied any contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. The White House and advisers to the campaign have since confirmed four meetings between Kislyak and Trump advisers during that time.
A recent CNN report also indicated that former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page was viewed by the Russians as a candidate to establish such a back channel. Page has insisted that a Russian spy’s attempt to turn him was not successful, despite his extensive monetary ties to the country and the fact that he lived there for five years. As recently as yesterday, Trump has maintained that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia.