Top Russian Officials Reportedly Discussed How to Influence Trump Through Aides Before Election
Methods of influencing President Donald Trump‘s views on matters relating to Russia were reportedly being discussed at the highest levels of the Russian government in the lead up to last year’s Presidential election.
According to the New York Times, which cited three current and former American officials as their sources, American spies discovered last summer that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were debating how they might be able to shape Trump’s views.
Per the report, those officials focused on former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Manafort and Flynn both have ties to Russia, and the Times says that Russian officials were confident that they could influence Trump through the two men.
Both Manafort and Flynn have denied working directly with Russia, but the new report suggests that top Russian officials may have thought it was possible that Manafort and Flynn would work with them to influence Trump.
The White House has attempted to downplay Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign, despite the fact that he was essentially running the show during a period which included the Republican National Convention. (White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at a briefing that Manafort’s main job in the Trump campaign was “counting delegates.”)
However, Trump has continued — publicly and privately — to stand behind Flynn. In a recent interview with NBC, Trump called Flynn, “a very good person,” and according to a Politico report, regretted firing him.
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