Russians 'boasted spies had links to Trump aides' during election campaign

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Citing three current and former American officials, the Times said United States intelligence officials collected information last summer showing Russians zeroed in on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Mr Flynn, a former head of U.S. military intelligence who was a key Trump campaign adviser.

The intelligence was among the clues - which also included information about direct communications between Mr. Trump's advisers and Russian officials - that American officials received a year ago as they began investigating Russian attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of Mr. Trump's associates were assisting Moscow in the effort.

USA congressional committees and a special counsel named by the Justice Department this month are investigating whether there was Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and the possibility of collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.

US intelligence agencies concluded in January that Moscow tried to tilt the November presidential election campaign in Republican Donald Trump's favor, including by hacking into and leaking the emails of senior Democrats.

U.S. spies last summer gathered that Russian intelligence officials were discussing how Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort could be used to influence Donald Trump, reports the New York Times.

On Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan told lawmakers he had noticed contacts between associates of Trump's campaign and Russian Federation during the campaign and grew concerned Moscow had sought to lure Americans down "a treasonous path".

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The Times said some of the Russian officials bragged about ties to Mr Flynn, and others thought they could use Mr Manafort's association with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who led a pro-Russian political party, to their advantage.

The Senate intelligence committee also has issued subpoenas to Flynn to get him to cooperate.

In a letter to the panel seen by Reuters, Page accused Brennan of offering a "biased viewpoint" in Tuesday's testimony. The new subpoenas issued to business entities controlled by Mr. Flynn are an attempt by the panel to obtain his cooperation in the wake of his refusal.Investigators also have questions about contacts between the Russians and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.Trump, now on a nine-day worldwide trip, has had his own conversations with the Russians questioned in light of reports that he shared extremely classified intelligence with Russian diplomats in the Oval Office on May 10.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California told reporters at a breakfast Wednesday that Flynn has declined to provide materials to the committee.

As the Two-Way reported, Flynn has invoked the 5 Amendment and has refused to turn over any documents subpoenaed by the committee related to his interactions with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

He was sacked from his position at the White House in February, after less than a month on the job, for failing to disclose the content of talks with Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, and misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

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