Russia sought to gain influence with the Trump campaign during last year's presidential election, in part by cozying up with campaign officials, according to a new report from CNN.
As part of Russia's attempts to influence the US election, Kremlin operatives singled out specific Trump advisers — such as Carter Page, a one-time foreign-policy staffer who was briefly employed by the campaign. CNN cited unnamed US officials in their report.
Page was courted extensively by Russian officials, CNN said. Page has had a number of conversations with Russian operatives, and has spoken at Kremlin-sponsored events in 2016 and long before. US officials have said some of the individuals Page has been in contact with are operatives who were already on the radar of US spy agencies.
Additionally, American officials have examined the nature of Page's time in Russia — namely, a speech he gave at the New Economic School in July 2016, where US officials said the speech read as anti-American, Russian propaganda. According to CNN, Page was invited in part because The Washington Post had cited him as a Trump campaign adviser, though he told the audience when he was there that he was not appearing as a Trump surrogate.
The sum total of Page's interactions with Russia have led US intelligence agencies to question whether Page was being used — knowingly or not — by Kremlin-linked officials. Details about Page's contacts with Russia were outlined in an explosive dossier — a 35-page collection of memos compiled by a former British spy. Contents of that dossier were apparently strong enough for the FBI to use it to build a case to request permission to spy on Page as part of its Trump-Russia probe.
Page has repeatedly denied any intentional involvement in Russia's meddling efforts. President Donald Trump has openly dismissed the investigations into his and associates' ties with Russia.
The latest details add more wrinkles to the fabric of a widespread investigation by the US to determine if, and how much, the Trump universe collaborated with the Kremlin to boost Trump's chances of winning the election. US intelligence agencies have been looking into Russia's other tactics, including cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, and propaganda, as part of its investigation.
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